Tripe or dare

illustration by Mark Stivers

I recently learned that not everyone loves to eat tripe. I know, crazy, right? I wouldn’t say it’s the most flavorful meat in the world, but it does have a texture than can give a dish a bit of extra oomph.

Tripe—for those of you not in the know—is the stomach lining from an animal. It’s a type of offal used in many different types of cooking. Most often, it’s beef tripe, but it can come from sheep and goats. The texture can be somewhat chewy and rubbery, necessitating that the tripe often be cut very thinly. The texture can also be strange to tripe newbies due to the raised honey-comb shaped webbing. It’s not for everyone.

Why eat tripe? Well, as a meat eater it seems blatantly irresponsible not to do so; eating only the muscles of an animal while letting the rest go to waste is just cruel. Furthermore, it gives character and a mellow, savory flavor to dishes. In Vietnamese pho, it provides a generally desired chewy texture. In tacos, it soaks up and holds onto copious amounts of cheese and salsa.