Menudo | Mexico | Living in Mexico

Menudo

Went over to Patty's house for dinner Monday night. It was one of those pick-up meals. "Let's see what I've got in the house. If I can't find anything, we'll go get tacos."

Patty looks in her fridge. She says, "Oh boy! Have I got a treat for you. Menudo!"

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Patty can hardly contain herself at the prospect of eating her bowl of menudo.

Menudo is one of those Mexican specialties I knew I was going to have to try sooner or later. Frankly, you haven't really experienced Mexico unless you've eaten this iconic dish. Mexican people I have known enjoy tacos, arrachera, carnitas, moles, but when you tell them there's menudo in store, they become ecstatic.

Simply put, menudo is tripe soup. Spicy tripe soup. Said to be a hangover cure. Now there's a recommendation! So in order to eat it, I had to get past my revulsion at eating boiled cow stomach.

In California, menudo is commonly served in real Mexican restaurants. By real I mean restaurants that Mexican people, not gringos, patronize, the kind where you can get tacos de cabeza (head tacos). These places frequently serve menudo on weekends as a special treat. Not many restaurants offer it because it's difficult to prepare, what with having to boil the stomach pieces for hours on end.

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Menudo being heated. The flat pan, a comal, is used for heating tortillas.

Reluctant for years to plunge into a meal of menudo, lately I've eaten enough unusual foods that it no longer seemed a challenge. I was simply waiting for a fortuitous occasion, and dinner at Patty's provided one.

I now know what all the fuss was about. Now I see why Mexican mouths water at the thought of a bowl of the stuff. God, it was good. I'm darned if I can see what makes it so unique and yummy. Tripe doesn't taste like much; it's the spicy soup that makes the dish. It would seem that you could eliminate the tripe, or replace it with more conventional meat, and get the same general taste.

I asked Patty about it. "Oh no," she said. "I like the texture of the tripe. Chewy!"

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