Tripa 'd Muncalè - Via Alba 19 Moncalieri (To) Italy

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Tripe

Tripe has been a major ingredient of rural cuisine. Indeed, it allowed poorer people to cook tasty and nutritious courses although they could not afford meat.
The rationale for eating tripe may be even more compelling today, as tripe is about as rich in proteins as meat, while at the same time low in fat (less than 10%).

Tripe's humble peasant background has enriched popular culture with local recipes which were usually based on fresh vegetables, oil, bacon fat, lard or butter, depending on the most common products of the land, with extra eggs or pork cuts, such as bacon, to make each course as nutritious as possible.

In every district, or even home, of Italy, tripe is cooked in different ways, thanks to its ability to absorb flavours, and for different times, to offer each palate a different texture. Tripe is such a traditional food that people from Genoa, Turin, Rome or Florence will each stick to their view that tripe is a traditional food of their own.

The word 'tripe' loosely means the digestive tract of cattle down to, and excluding, their intestinal tract. It therefore encompasses parts with different scientific names, namely the oesophagus, the rumen, the reticulum, the omasum, the abomasum and the duodenum.

Local popular traditions have given rise to various names with overlapping meanings. In Piedmont, the oesophagus is called 'erbera' (i.e. the place where grass is stored); it is turned inside out before cooking, thereby exposing its inner surface, which used to be in contact with chewed grass.

The rumen is the main part in terms of bulk, and it is called 'larga' (wide) or 'mantello' (cloak). The reticulum is attached to the rumen; due to its particular shape, it is called bee's nest or bonnet. The omasum, on the contrary, is spherical and multi-layered; consequently, it is known as 'fogliolo' (leaflet), 'centopelli' (hundred skins), 'millefogli' (thousand sheets) or 'bibbia' (Bible).

The last two parts, i.e. the abomasum and the duodenum, are also the most controversial ones: depending on the local tradition, they may either be considered the best parts (e.g. the 'lampredotto' in Tuscany), or be discarded altogether. The 'lampredotto' is also known as 'quaglietto' (little quail) or stomach, because it is the last part falling under the general term 'tripe' and it is joined to the intestinal tract.

These parts are cooked and taste all roughly alike, but they differ in some details. The choice is hard, and it ultimately depends on the cook's skills and on one's palate preferences.


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