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Dish of the week: Tripe in Madeira

Jonathan Schofield talks tripe with more determination than usual

Written by . Published on March 12th 2011.


Dish of the week: Tripe in Madeira

Salford is tripe
Get it at The Mark Addy, Stanley Street, Salford, City, M3 5EJ. 0161 832 4080

Offal-childhood
It was 2p I think on the bus back from All Saints School to Thrum Hall in Rochdale where my mum would be making tea. Or maybe 10p. This was in the early seventies and I would have short trousers and a satchel and a mouth watering with expectation. There’d be all sorts of food to enjoy on different days, but of the three brothers, and I was the youngest, I was the only one who ever liked tripe.

My dad and mum did too. Very simple dish. Nothing to it. Cold, then covered with lashings of vinegar, maybe pepper. The rubbery texture of cattle stomach lining, with the kick of the vinegar, made for an exotic dish. A great start to a meal. Sometimes it came pickled, but it was always good. Outside the house though, even across Lancashire, tripe disappeared. People went for shrink-wrapped mince instead. Or cottage cheese.

A totally callos man
Living in Madrid for a while after university and tripe was back on the menu, only it was called callos (pronounced ca–yos). You could get this as a tapa or as part of a main dish, but it was never the same. It was always part of some big stew, with chickpeas usually. It was never the same but in the end it was still worth chewing over, still enjoyable. Evidently I couldn’t stop being a tripe man, still all Lancashire, as the sun assaulted the pavements outside and gassy lager chilled the throat.

Tripe of contentmentBack in Manchester there was no tripe to be had. And there generally hasn’t been for twenty years. Except in El Rincon, where of course it’s called callos.

Then one recent Friday down by the river, pots of the stuff appeared on the table. Robert Owen-Brown, that great chef champion of this region’s exceptional foods - foods too robust for most in an age of wraps, salads and risottos - offered up a couple of variants of the classic food. There were about eight people around the table. I think I was the only one who ate the stuff, feeling heroic and noble too.

There was a simple pickled tripe with capers and parsley that was beautifully sharp and clear in flavour. Then there was the revelation of the tripe in Madeira (£5.50). Warm, lush, sweet, full of texture in a sauce made from a fortified wine that’s perfect for bringing out the best in the tripe. It’s an accessible version as well. An introductory tripe. For sensitive types - just forget what it is and enjoy the complex tastes and textures. Try some.

Heel me
As a lad the tripe was usually a tasty lite-bite before the main event. I feel we had it on Wednesdays. I also feel we had cow-heel pie afterwards. Lord I miss cow-heel pie, go on Mr Owen-Brown make Salford and Manchester some, show them its delights.

Back to tripe. In Norway at Christmas time in restaurants they eat lutefisk, cod preserved in ‘lye’, caustic soda, which is like soggy cotton wool dipped in rotten fish. They love it, they learn to love it, it just takes practice. Maybe we should have a similar time of year for tripe. An annual celebration, a tripe season. A festival. Be proud of what appears unlovable. Visiting stand-up comedians would appreciate it if nobody else.


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ellpollolocoMarch 15th 2011.

If you want tripe go Chinese...exellent with ginger and spring onion or black pepper and chilli..both done at glamorous. You might want to try the beef tendon as well...interesting!

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