It's World Tripe Day! Here Are Five Non-Gross Ways to Eat Stomach

I can’t believe my editors are letting me publish this tripe, but October 24 marks the international day dedicated to celebrating the preparation, cooking and consumption of stomach lining.

That’s right—it’s World Tripe Day, apparently!

Many might balk at the thought of chowing down on this great knobbly towel of a foodstuff. Made from the stomach linings of cows, pigs or other farm animals, when prepared poorly it is rubbery and thanklessly bland. Eating bad tripe is like munching your way through a damp sponge.

But don’t let bad experiences or anti-offal prejudice deter you. Done right, tripe can be glorious. It soaks up flavor like little else; it works well in a range of shapes and preparations; and eating it on a first date is a great way to signal you are sophisticated and worldly. (Disclaimer: That last one has not been empirically tested.)

So if you want to celebrate this great global moment with a lunch or dinner, here are five cuisines that do it well. Go forth, and enjoy some top-notch tripe in the U.S. of A (or wherever else you may be).

Sichuan Chinese

Sichuan food, originating from the province of the same name in the south of China, is known for loud flavors and copious spice, and outlets serving it are a great place to find offal in organ-skeptic Western countries (duck tongue, anyone?).

It makes a good bet for a tripe beginner looking to sample some stomach, because the strong seasoning and range of ingredients mean if you really have to, you can pretend you’re eating something else.

Traditional tripe dishes include fuqi feipian (literal translation: "married couple’s slices of lung," apparently), comprising strips of beef and offal, such as heart, tongue and tripe. Sichuan versions of hot pot dishes also often include tripe.

Italian

When you’re thinking of staple Italian ingredients, your mind might turn more swiftly to plump tomatoes or verdant basil than leathery stomach linings.

But tripe is well-used throughout Italy. In some places it’s even a classic street food. In Florence, lampredotto (dark-brown tripe made from the fourth stomach of a cow) has been served to workmen in bread rolls out of street carts for centuries; the closest thing Botticelli or Da Vinci had to a taco truck.

Sadly, you might struggle to persuade your actual local taco truck to cook this for you (though your local Mexican eatery might have something—more on that later). But other Italian tripe dishes are available. Trippa alla Romana (“tripe in the Roman style”) is a famous one, served in plenty of fancy Italian restaurants.

In this dish, the offal is braised until tender and then served in a tomato sauce with Parmesan. As this Serious Eats post points out, it’s a great showcase for tripe’s flavor-absorbing powers. You’ll never want to eat tomatoes any other way.

Mexican

What did I tell you? Mexicans may not follow the Italians in eating tripe as a street food, but they do have a great preparation for it, traditionally eaten at family meals, but also available in restaurants across the U.S.

Menudo is considered a hangover cure, and for many Mexican-Americans it’s a popular choice for a post-bender breakfast, according to this Munchies ode to the strong-scented stew.

Mixing cumin, limes, plenty of chilies and traditionally a whole load of other offal (beef feet are not unheard of) this is not a tripe dish for the fainthearted, but it’s one droves of Americans swear by. Swallow your fear, and give it a go.

Polish

Polish food is mostly at the other end of the flavor spectrum to Mexican. You won’t find much spice, but it is one of the most overlooked European cuisines out there: hearty, comforting and deceptively complex. It’s well worth hunting down a good local outlet.

If it’s tripe you’re wanting, look no further than Poland's own traditional beef tripe soup, flaki, sometimes named in the diminutive form flaczki. Like its Mexican cousin, it’s also known as a hangover cure, so seek some out if you’re still feeling tender from last night’s World Tripe Day Eve party.

According to the Tasting Poland blog, the soup is made with vegetables, and sometimes bacon or other meats, as well as offal, and is eaten in Poland either with whole tripe pieces in it or as a smooth stock. It’s flavored with marjoram, an herb popular in Poland that’s related to the better-known (in America) oregano.

French

French cuisine has a range of preparations for tripe, including its own versions of tripe soups and stews (among them tripes à la niçoise and tripes à la mode de caen). But one French offal dish has made a particular impact in America.

The andouille, eaten as part of traditional French charcuterie, is a sausage made of a pig’s digestive system: tripe and small intestines (called chitterlings), encased in the large intestine.

This is where it gets confusing for Americans, though: The name was brought to America by French immigrants, who made their own versions. Nowadays, the American andouille is a spicy sausage made with rough-minced pork, not tripe, and found in Cajun and Creole cooking.

So while both versions are fine dishes, to keep with the spirit of World Tripe Day, you could go looking for some of the traditional French version.

And if by now you’re feeling really bold, you could also try the sausage’s cousin, andouillette. This large, cooked sausage is packed to bursting with—there’s no easy way to say this—chunks of pig’s colon.

The distinctive scent, prized among gourmands, is perhaps best described in a quote attributed to the former French Prime Minister Edouard Herriot: “Politics is like andouillette. It must smell a little like shit, but not too much.”

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