Sunday, December 13, 2009

Tripe: Could I Stomach It?

Wouldn't have figured, but goat and pig tripe (or stomach lining) is delicious! Especially when seasoned, mixed with onions and cilantro, doused with Cholula and wrapped in a flour tortilla! Had to write a brief "weird food" piece for my Reporting & Writing class and opted for tripe. I figured I'm a willing carnivore, so trying a new bit of an animal couldn't be all that bad.

A simple Google search led me to Tehuitzingo Deli & Grocery in Hell's Kitchen. From the sidewalk it's not much to look at. In fact, were I walking down the street I probably wouldn't even give it a second thought. But I read the reviews and supposedly this place was a hidden gem for authentic Mexican food in NYC. Along with being a carnivore, I consider myself a Mexican food aficionado of sorts. Between jaunts south of the border and the occasional meal in Santa Ana or San Juan Capistrano, Calif., I've had exposure to some fine Mexican cuisine. Over nearly four months in New York, I'd been greatly disappointed in the so-called Mexican offerings. I mean, come on, in a city that boasts of being a cultural melting pot, how is it that Chipotle offers the best burrito in town?

So, to Tehuitzingo and the small window in the back of the grocery slash restaurant. The small dark-skinned woman taking my order from the kitchen didn't seem to understand a word of English. In the world of Mexican food, that's usually a damn good sign. And it was. I ordered a Tripa (pork tripe) and Sangre (goat tripe) taco, popped a Negro Modelo and grabbed a stool. If not for Ricky Martin's "Livin' La Vida Loca" music video on the TV, I would have declared it to be among the anticipatory high points of my time in NYC. Ricky ruins everything.

A matter of minutes later my order was ready. From afar, the twin tacos looked and smelled amazing. Upon closer inspection the meats were glaringly different in appearance: the goat tripe looked like charred ground beef and the pork tripe resembled half-cooked calamari. Before the first bite my stomach did give me a smidgen of second-thought, but I opted to continue in my taste-testing. And I was well-rewarded. Both were a tad on the salty side, but quite good. During my post meal reflection, I had to admit that, surprisingly, I preferred the goat tripe.

I'm hoping to make another trip down to Tehuitzingo again soon for my weekly Mexican fix. Maybe next time I'll go for the Oreja and Lengua (pork ear and beef tongue).

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