On The Range: Menudo
Why in the world would anyone crave a bowl cow or sheep stomach soup? They do a stuffed stomach dish in Scotland, but that's just to get through Burns Night and all that Scotch...Oh. Great for hangovers.
Of course, a glass of water with each alcoholic drink probably works better, but where's the fun in that?
Like so many of the dishes in Mexico, menudo may have originated in Pre-Colombian times, and there are several variations. Menudo in Sonora may be blanco (white) rather than rojo (red) as it is in Chihuahua. In Central Mexico, they sometimes refer to soup made from sheep's tripe (stomach) as menudo and soup made from beef tripe as pancitas. And pozole involves pork.
In any case, a bowl of menudo is a New Year's Day tradition South of the border. And North of the border as well in heavily Hispanic parts of the country. Writing in Sunset Magazine, Nora Burba Trulsson confesses, "frankly, it's been decades since I've overdone it on New Years Eve, but that doesn't stop me from indulging in a favorite New Year's Day ritual; I savor a steamy, spicy, chewy bowl of menudo...Some cooks like to add a cow's or pig's foot for extra oomph. In any case, it's an adventure in eating, one that my husband and kids emphatically don't care to share with me." Hmmm...you say menudo, I say bacon and eggs.
In her book, The Cuisines of Mexico, Diana Kennedy confirms the New Year's Day menudo tradition. She also adds that the stew is very labor and time intensive to prepare, requiring at least four hours to simmer, not including prep time. Her recipe calls for honeycomb tripe, calf's foot, onion, garlic, peppercorns, anchos and poblanos, hominy, oregano, and salt. She further notes that "This soup should be picante--after all, it is to shake you up after the night before. "
Truer words were never spoken.
Here in Dallas, you can get your menudo fix almost any weekend, as many restaurants bring out the spicy tripe soup; however, a lot of them only serve it for Saturday and Sunday breakfast. What if (heaven forbid!) you should overindulge on a weeknight?
Don't worry: Los Lupes has you covered. At each of their six area locations--should you be that desperate--you can order menudo any time they are open, in regular or large portions. (Hint: The large is only $1 more than the regular, and the servings are quite generous.) Served, as is traditional, with lemon wedges, peppers, and corn or flour tortillas, the tripe itself is tender and chewy
But the real flavor is in the piquant broth, which is spicy enough to distract you from the thought of eating something offal.