Fr. Z’s Kitchen: Roman Saturday Tripe! “No tripe for the dems!”

Romans have a tradition of making great food out of the quinto quarto, the fifth fourth, that is, the parts of the animals that weren’t sold for income or were very cheap.

There’s a tradition in Rome of eating tripe on Saturdays.  You can see from time to time in the City “SABATO TRIPPA”.  Hence, trippa alla romana.

Today I’m enjoying tripe because it’s Saturday, we’ve had a lot to stomach over the last few weeks and, for the libs, there’s an old proverb which basically means, “We’re ___ out of luck!”, that is, “Non c’è trippa per i gatti!… There’s no tripe for the cats!”   On that note, I’ll be watching the Senate confirmation vote.

So, cows have various stomachs by which they do their thing.  The type I found at the store was the reticolo, so named for its “net” pattern.  It’s nicknamed “beretta” like the thing priests wear on their heads and carry at their “4”.

The outside presages the inside.

This was uncooked.  In Rome you can buy it pre-cooked, which cuts down the prep time.

I simmered the beretta with onion, carrot, celery, garlic.

When the water got hot, the tripe contracted into something that you could repair tires with.

After several hours, it relaxed again.   Here’s the set up.  NB: Clement XIV mug, which can be YOURS!  CLICK!

Start with pancetta in the pan.   Add your chopped onion, celery and carrot.  I used some of the simmering water from time to time to start a bit of a sauce that the tripe could suck up.

Time to cut this up.

In they go, in all there reticulated goodness.

Add tomato.   I might add a little more later.  I plan on giving this a few more hours.

In Rome you can find a couple variants of “Roman style” tripe.  There’s the spiffier kind which uses a meat-tomato sauce to cook the tripe and the poorer kind which uses just tomato.  The later is sometimes called “trippa alla trasteverina”, the sort made “across the Tiber” from central Roma, once a poorer district and the area where I sort of “grew up” when I moved over there.  The streets of trastevere are where I founded my Italian.  Also, sometimes in the reports of journalists who cover the Vatican will, in Italian, refer to “oltretevere… beyond or across the Tiber” for the Roman Curia, etc.

That reminds me of the Ode by Horace, which I’ll now share with you.

In Ode 1.20 the poet talks about his countryside ville (his “Sabine Farm”… *sigh*), his wine and a great shout that echoed out over Rome for his patron Maecenas:

Vile potabis modicis Sabinum
cantharis, Graeca quod ego ipse testa
conditum levi, datus in theatro
cum tibi plausus,

care Maecenas eques, ut paterni
fluminis ripae simul et iocosa
redderet laudes tibi Vaticani
montis imago.

Caecubum et prelo domitam Caleno
tu bibes uvam; mea nec Falernae
temperant vites neque Formiani
pocula colles.

The parts below in parenthesis I added to make this clearer to those who don’t know much about Horace.

(When you visit me in the country at my farm)
You will quaff from simple drinking cups
the lowly Sabine which I laid down with the
Greek style seal, in the year when the applause
was given to you in the theater,

dear knight Maecenas, so loud that
the Vatican hill together with the banks of
the fatherly river Tiber sent the praises
back to you.

(At home) you will be drinking Caecuban and the grape
crushed in the Calenean press; my vines
and not Falernian or Formian vines will
blend in your cups
(when you visit my Sabine farm house in the country).

A long time ago, one of my Latin profs told me that as I got older I would appreciate Horace more and more.

Speaking of the echoing shout, during John Paul II’s funeral Mass Rome was still and silent.  There was virtually no traffic and, therefore, no “white noise” filling the air.  When, at the end, the pallbearers turned about with JPII’s coffin for the last time, a huge shout when up into the air.  Where I was sitting I could hear it echo out over the City.  It was probably the loudest single human sound ever made in the history of the city, given the number of people watching at that moment.

That’s where I am at right now with the tripe.  The place is filled with tripy fragrance.

I’ve selected an interesting Sangiovese with a little Cabernet Sauvignon in it, which should give it a bit more earthiness.

More later.



Tonight… brocoletti tossed in the pan with oil, garlic and hot pepper.  First given them a boiling bath for a few minutes.   Then, let them have it!

As I dressed it.

The only thing that made this better, is that I was able to made a little care package for my priest neighbor here at The Cupboard Under The Stair™.

Food like this needs sharing!

Anyway… so much can be done with so little, so long as you are patient and you have a little savvy.

Folks, make big meals now.  Invite friends and talk about what’s going on.  PRAY when you are together.

Enjoy your Catholic identity together!

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. My Italian (but second-generation American) mother (RIP) used to make tripe. When I was a kid, I thought it was fish. I mean, “tripe” sounds like a name for a fish! Then, when I was older, she finally set me straight on what the stuff is. I haven’t been able to touch the stuff since.

    When my mother would comment on my “barbarian” food habits and tastes, I would remind her I’m only half Italian.

  2. majuscule says:

    Your recipe is just like what I learned from my mother-in-law, who was first generation Italian-American. Her parents were from up north by Lake Como but the recipe is the same except she didn’t use pancetta.

    We raised our own beef and processed the tripe from dumping the stomach contents and scraping to what you show here. However, what we called the honeycomb (looks like what you used here) was not my favorite. The denser fuzzier-looking part seemed to soak up the sauce better and had a nice texture.

    Thanks for the memories and now I’m thinking of looking to purchase some tripe at the store to prepare since the herd of cattle is long gone…

  3. Cafea Fruor says:

    Tripe? I dunno. Sounds kind of…offal. ;-)

  4. DeGaulle says:

    Indeed, Cafea Fruor, tripe is offal. Such delicacies, along with sweetmeats, pigs’ heads, pigs’ trotters (=crubeens in Ireland), ox tongues and prawn brains are among the most delightful and under-appreciated culinary gifts of God!

    [These are the products of slow cooking, of patience, of humility and poverty. The are the fruit of patience and respect for our forebears. In our days of industrial food many people have forgotten how people really EAT.]

  5. CasaSanBruno says:

    Call me wimpy but I can’t work up the courage for this one. On the other hand (I have five fingers), I was able to get some guanciale in a local deli and made your last recipe, carbonara, to celebrate the Feast of St. Bruno. Thanks again for that! Buona festa.

  6. acardnal says:

    On a day like today, I would celebrate with a steak . . . after a pre-prandial cocktail, of course!

  7. acardnal: steak

    A good choice, but my explanation stands. MY pre-prandial involved gin and a touch of, per experimentum, Aperol!

    Also, I was tempted to have BEER with this, which would have been great. I have great beer from Norcia! And BEER has been in the news.

  8. DanMan says:

    That looks delicious. It reminds me of my Polish background. My grandmother used to make a tomato based soup with tripe in it. We kids used to call it caterpillar soup, but we ate it with a little sour cream swirled in. I would make it today, but it’s a little hard to find ethnic staples where I live. Also I’m pretty sure my wife wouldn’t touch it.

  9. KateD says:

    ” When, at the end, the pall bearers turned about with JPII’s coffin for the last time, a huge shout went up into the air”

    Okay. Well and good. But where were they when he was laying in Gemelli in need of our prayers? In retrospect I’m glad they showed up to honor him at his funeral….but sheesh! There wasn’t a single soul at the hospital praying for him….What is up with that?!? I assumed there would be throngs of the faithful keeping round the clock vigil for SAINT Pope John Paul II. We knew then he was a living saint. Why wait till he died?

    [I don’t get this at all. I was there when he was in the hospital. As a matter of fact, I did a couple of TV spots for Fox News with Greg Burke. I saw the crowd that gathered. Also, Gemelli isn’t the easiest place to get to whereas St. Pietro is hard to miss. Also, when John Paul died he was in the Apostolic Palace apartment. There were large crowds of people praying in the piazza during his last hours.]

  10. APX says:

    I’ve always seen tripe in the store right next to the chicken hearts and gizzards, or as we call them zúza, which is more my thing, and always wondered what people do with it. Now I know. Osso bucco is another great “cheap” Italian dish. It used to be cheap, but people caught on to how good it is and now veal shank has skyrocketed in price.

  11. JabbaPapa says:

    I cordially dislike tripe (though my dad loved it).

    I’ve had it in what I personally consider as the best traditional restaurant of simple bourgeois cuisine in France, the magnificent Polidor near the Sorbonne and Luxembourg gardens in Paris, and whilst it was easy to eat, even there I did not like it as such.

    But at least that meal taught me how some other people can … ;o)

    It was probably the best tripe that you could find anywhere — less tomato than yours, Father, more gravy. [“My” version is more Roman than mine.]

  12. Atra Dicenda, Rubra Agenda says:

    I spent 12 hours smoking a whole packer brisket yesterday. It is for sharing.

  13. Andrew says:

    To each his own: As St. Jerome puts it:
    Caeterum quis ignoret, unamquamque gentem non communi lege naturae, sed his, quorum apud se copia est, vesci solitam? Verbi gratia, [] in Ponto et Phrygia, vermes albos et obesos, qui nigello capite sunt, et nascuntur in lignorum carie, pro magnis reditibus paterfamilias exigit. [] Rursum Orientales et Libyae populos, quia per desertum et calidam eremi vastitatem locustarum nubes reperiuntur, locustis vesci moris est. Hoc verum esse Joannes quoque Baptista probat. Compelle Phrygem et Ponticum, ut locustam comedat, nefas putabit. Coge Syrum, Afrum et Arabem ut vermes Ponticos glutiat, ita eos despiciet, ut muscas, millepedas, et lacertos. Quamquam Syri et crocodilis terrenis, Afri etiam lacertis viridibus vesci soleant. In Aegypto et Palaestina propter boum raritatem nemo vaccam comedit. [] Sarmatae, Quadi, Vandali, et innumerabiles aliae gentes, equorum et vulpium carnibus delectantur. (S. Hieronymus: adv. Jovinianum, lib. II, 7)

  14. Suburbanbanshee says:

    When I was young and taking Spanish, the band Menudo was popular, so of course people asked what it meant. Our Spanish teacher said it meant “leftovers.” Well, sometimes it does, and sometimes it means “tripe soup.”

    And you can get tripe soup and tripe tacos at a lot of Hispanic restaurants. This is also why you see a lot more tripe in grocery stores, these days.

    That Pepin guy did a show about offal that was on PBS recently, and he waxed lyrical about the joys of tripe and the various kinds from various animals.

  15. un-ionized says:

    I miss Campbell’s pepper pot soup. It had little pieces of the rumen in it. My folks loved pickled tripe.

  16. Cafea Fruor says:

    @DeGaulle, yes, I do know–I just couldn’t resist making a pun. :-) Being half German, I happen to be a fan of some offal–though I can’t quite bring myself to eat the pickled pigs’ feet my maternal grandma did or the souse my paternal grandpa loved. Liverwurst and pate are my personal favorites, and I suppose I get intestines whenever I have authentic German sausage (most sausages now have casings taken from collagen from somewhere else in the animal). Now I’m making myself hungry…

  17. Jack007 says:

    I’m sure Pope Francis would have his opinion…Tripa Gorda and Chinchulines as we call them in Argentina are a staple of the Asado or BBQ if you will.
    Off the grill with some Chimichurri sauce is an awesome way to eat this delicacy.

  18. 67mcmahon says:

    When my husband studied in Rome last fall, we stayed near Campo dei Fiori and I taught myself to make Trippa alla Romana. The prepared tripe is so readily available in Rome, and there you get the true Roman mint, local pecorino… While the taste is sensational, I’ve never been satisfied with how tough mine turns out. Boiling it too hard? Too long? Not long enough? No matter what I seem to do, it comes out “al dente” to say the least.

    We returned to the States with tripe fever, and found prepared tripe much less readily-available. Luckily, we did happen upon a large quantity at a Polish sausage shop in Chicago and stocked up our freezer.

    Trippa alla Romana is a hit with our young children, who, granted, have yet to be informed whence it came…

    I wonder what the origin of Saturday tripe is and if/how it was related to preparations for the traditional Italian Sunday family lunch.

  19. 67mcmahon says: how tough mine turns out

    I suggest 1) when you initially cook it, not letting the water or broth boil, keep the temp fairly low and 2) be patient: let it cook for a long time. I started mine when I rose in the morning. I gave it several hours in the broth before I started on the recipe. Give it hours, even overnight from Friday.

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