I’ve had a hankering for menudo for a couple of weeks.
The soup menudo is a traditional Mexican dish, made with hominy and tripe in a clear broth or occasionally with a red chile base (this variation is called menudo colorado). It is traditionally served on special occasions or with family. Usually, lime, chopped onions, and chopped cilantro are added, as well as crushed oregano and crushed red chili peppers. Boiled tripe has a tough chewy texture very similar to calamari, but with a completely unique flavor and smell.
Menudo is usually eaten with tortillas or other breads, such as bolillo. It is often chilled and reheated, which causes a more concentrated flavor. The popularity of menudo in Mexico is such that Mexico is a major export market for stomach tripe from US and Canadian beef producers. Large frozen blocks of imported menudo meat can frequently be seen in Mexican meat markets.
Menudo is essentially a poor people’s food. One of the two prime ingredients is hominy, or nixtamalized corn, an ingredient that has provided nourishment to Mesoamerican peoples for millennia; the other is tripe, an offal meat usually eaten by the poor. Menudo is also a familial food, in the preparation of which the entire family participates, and even serves as an occasion for social interaction with others, since oftentimes throngs of people with pots in hand will wait at the butcher’s shop to buy their menudo, if their families no longer make it themselves.
Given that menudo is time and labor intensive to prepare–the tripe takes hours to cook (or else it is extremely tough), and many ingredients and side dishes (such as salsa) need to be cut and cooked–the dish is often prepared communally and eaten at a feast; documents from the Works Progress Administration indicate that in the 1930s, among (migrant) workers in Arizona, menudo parties were held regularly to celebrate births, Christmas, and other occasions.
It’s also said to be a cure for hangovers.. it’s a bit like Vietnamese phò, in that regard.
“Pa’ un crudo, come menudo” (for a hangover, eat menudo, Breakfast of Champions)
I had a nice bowl of it for breakfast today at El Vaquero after my usual 2-mile walk. I was not hungover, either.