Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Menudo. Now I double-hate you.

I almost feel embarrassed writing this blog.

Which is why I'm writing it. I was going to pretend this never happened, but I need to accept that it did and that I am not quite as bad-ass as I thought I was.

I'll stop being cryptic.

So, I take a lot of pride in the fact that I will try eating just about anything once. I like to order that thing on the menu that doesn't have much of a description. I like to go for the House Specialty, whatever that may be. Try new things! How bad can it be? What doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Come on, you pussy, it's only food!

I read too much Anthony Bourdain.
And now it has bitten me in the ass.

The problem is that I clearly haven't retained enough of the knowledge I've gleaned from my inordinate amount of reading about food. The special of the day at Bronco was a word I had heard before, not only as the name of a shitty Latino boy-band, but also as a food.

It was "menudo".
(Those of you who know what this is can shut the hell up and quit LOLing.)

I knew the word in the context of being a food, but I couldn't recall for the life of me what it was. Now this is the point at which most people would ask the lady at the counter, "Excuse me, what is menudo?" and she would have told you that it was... well, let's not get ahead of ourselves.

But no. My inner Bourdain started taunting me, saying just to get it and have a mini adventure on your otherwise boring Sunday night. So I got it. Without a fucking clue what I had just ordered.

After waiting (which, thinking back, I don't know what took so fucking long) for my food, I was handed a bag and I left. I stepped outside and peeked into the bag. There was a big styrofoam container with a lid. Some kind of soup or stew, I rightly guessed. I began my walk home.

As I neared my apartment, I became more and more afraid of the parcel in my hands. I started to fear my food as I have never feared food before, to my recollection. I began to (stupidly) imagine a scenario in which I entered my apartment where Greg and Nic were watching a movie and Greg asks, "Hey, what did you get?" and I say "Um... menudo?" and they both begin to laugh hysterically because they know what it is and I am the dumbass who ordered it.
Upon entering the apartment, I swiftly make my way to my room. I carefully set down my questionable meal and instead of tasting it, I google it. Of course, Wikipedia has the top entry (aside from the band Menudo's website). I'll take it. I click on "Menudo (soup)" and this is what I read:

The soup menudo is a traditional Mexican dish; a frequently spicy soup made with tripe. It is often thought of as a cure for a hangover, and is traditionally served on special occasions or with family.
In pre-revolutionary Mexico, poverty among the campesinos was chronic, and little if anything that might be prepared as food was left to waste. Usually, the best cuts of meat would go to the hacienda owners while the offal went to the peasants. These leftovers consisted of organ meats, brains, head, tails, hooves, etc. As cattle and sheep are ruminants that require lengthy intestinal tracts to digest their diet of grasses and raw seeds, the stomach is one of the largest pieces of offal available from these animals.
There are a number of variations on menudo, including blanco (white or clear), verde (green), or rojo (red). Typical condiments added to menudo are dried
oregano, epazote, ground chile flakes, lime juice, fresh cilantro and chopped onion. Due to the length of time needed to cook tripe to be tender enough to be edible, menudo is generally cooked in large batches and sold as a special menu item in Mexican restaurants, although it is occasionally prepared at home. In some areas menudo is sold as a weekend-only specialty in regular restaurants (typically announced by signs reading Rico Menudo fines de semana). In other areas, menudo is made daily, but mostly sold in restaurants and market stalls (fondas) that specialize in the dish.

Goddammit. I just bought tripe soup.

Knowing what it was, I finally unveiled my terrifying dinner. Alright. Looks like soup with... vague stuff in it. I stirred it and one of the chunks bobbed to the top.


I shit you not, I almost became vegetarian on the spot. All the bravado I had exhibited in the restaurant had faded, leaving only a squeamish girl and a styrofoam bowl.


I took a taste of the broth.
Not bad. Spicy. A bit meaty but kind of a... strange taste.
Now let's get ballsy.
I went in for a chunk.
Deposited in my mouth.

No thanks.

I tried my damnedest to eat the broth and got about 10% of it down (this was a BIG container), but then all those horrible looking (and I tell you, the chunks were HORRIBLE looking; weird, spongy, white blobs) pieces o' tripe began to gather in numbers at the top of the soup and I gave up. I had put up a valiant fight, but my pride finally gave out to my dislike of bizarre internal organ food. Mark it right up there with "chicken livers" as things I have tried as an adult an and find wildly disgusting.

Thank god it came with tortillas. For dessert, I had old Halloween candy.

On a side-note, I think it's HILARIOUS that a band notorious for casting off members for getting too old has the same name as a Mexican soup made of cast-off parts of an animal. According to Wikipedia, "Menudo (from Latin minūtus) also means 'small, thin, worthless, vulgar, (money) change'...", but in Puerto Rico, it also means "young folks".

Who's got two thumbs and learned a valuable lesson today?

No comments: