Trippa alla Romana

When in Rome, eat as the Romans do.

So I was in Rome, and wanted to eat as the Romans do. We had settled into a friendly and popular trattoria around the corner from our apartment, and scanning the menu, I landed on one of the most traditional Roman dishes of them all — trippa alla Romana.

Tripe — architectural shot

Tripe — architectural shot

I’ve always wanted to like tripe. Many a regrettable weekend morning I tried to gag down a bowl of menudo, the supposed cure-all for the hangover. And each time was reminded why I swore the last time I was never going to order it again.

But something compelled me at that Roman table to give tripe another try. I was glad I did. Something about the convergence of the slight funkiness of the tripe, the salty tomato sauce, and the freshness of mint created a dish that was unique and delicious. This was what tripe was meant for!

I told my adventurous foodie friends, the Schneiders, that I wanted to do a Roman night and make some tripe. They were onboard, as inadvertently was my pal Jon who just happened to wind up at dinner that night.



If you live in Los Angeles or probably any other large metropolis in America, you have to go to a Mexican market to find tripe. It was a curious experience purchasing the tripe, a rubbery white sheet of stuff with some feathery honeycomb-shaped surface texture.

My first effort at trippa alla Romana, served that evening to my friends, was indeed rubbery — unlike the meltingly tender dish I’d had in Rome. I had cooked the offal too long in water. Everyone (squeamish wife not included) dug in; the flavor was good and the texture could be overlooked.

But I was not satisfied.

A couple weeks later, happening to pass by the Vallarta supermercado, I stopped in and picked up another pound of tripe — enough for a nice lunch for myself.

It happened to be a hungover Sunday morning when I put the thing to the pan. I was careful to simmer it for just under an hour, rather than the 90 minutes I boiled it for the last time. The texture was perfect.


Cautiously optimistic, I stirred in the garlic, onion and pureed tomato, cooked it down, added some fresh mint and scooped it into a bowl.

And there it was! Sprinkled with crushed red pepper and dusted with pecorino romano, every bit the dish I had in Rome, right there at my table in Topanga. And my hangover wasn’t feeling half so bad anymore, either.

Should you one day be feeling adventurous (or, like me, nostalgic for Rome):

*    *    *

Trippa alla Romana
serves 4-6

2 lbs honeycomb tripe
1/2 cup white vinegar
2 tbsp. olive oil
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 small onion, sliced into slivers
1 lb. ripe heirloom tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped mint
salt to taste
crushed red pepper
grated pecorino romano

Place tripe in a pot with water to cover and vinegar, and place over high heat. When the water begins to boil, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 1 hour.

Remove tripe from water and set aside to cool. Once cool to touch, cut into strips about 1 inch long by 1/2 inch wide.

Place tomatoes in a blender and roughly puree.

In a large pan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic and onion and saute, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add tripe and saute for another 2 minutes. Add tomato puree and bring to a simmer. Lower heat to medium low, cover and simmer for 30 minutes.

Remove from heat. Stir in the chopped mint.

Serve in bowls with crushed red pepper and pecorino romano, if desired.

The Culinary Hug

My wife will, on occasion, get on my case about coddling my 13-year-old son, Flynn, with food. He’ll ask me to fix him a bowl of cereal, or put the butter on his waffles and cut them into bite-size pieces.

“He’s old enough to be doing that himself,” she’ll say. “When Kristen’s boys were that age….”

Teaching the boy about eating at the bar

Teaching the boy about eating at the bar

Her point of reference is inevitably her sister, Kristen’s, boys: “When Kristen’s boys were that age, they could [INSERT REMARKABLE ACHIEVEMENT HERE].” It would seem as if Kristen’s kids could build themselves log cabins and kill and skin their dinner before they could crawl.


Breakfast with the Luthier

My uncle, Ernie, arrived with aunt Deb for an overnight stay. Our beers were hardly poured before he announced his new profession:

“I’m now a luthier!”

The Luthier

The Luthier

For those of you who, like I, had no idea what that means:

A luthier (/ˈluːtiər/ LOO-ti-ər) is someone who builds or repairs string instruments generally consisting of a neck and a sound box. The word “luthier” comes from the French word luth, which means lute. More

Oktoberfest Eve (Sort of…)

My pal, Steve, was in Luxembourg — close to the German border — a couple weeks ago, and sent me a photo of the very large beer he was drinking.

“I’m celebrating Oktoberfest!” he said.

“It’s only mid-September!” I pointed out.

Don Schneider and his boar beard

Don Schneider and his boar beard

“I guess they start early.”

So it seemed reasonable when our pals, the Schneiders, invited us for an Oktoberfest dinner on September 28. More

Quite Possibly the World’s Best Sandwich

I wasn’t much of a bologna — baloney — kid when I was young. While my friends pined for white bread with bologna and mayo, I found it rather bland and uninteresting.


In my teen years, working at an Italian deli, I would discover that the origins of this pale, flaccid meatstuff was actually a salumi called mortadella (the American version was named after the central-Italian city from whence mortadella originates, Bologna). And my opinion would change. More

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