On October 24, 1662, Samuel Pepys reports in his famous diary that he had eaten “a most excellent dish of tripe of my own directing, covered with mustard.” This is why October 24 is celebrated today as World Tripe Day.
For those who do not know, tripe is an edible part from the stomach of different farm animals, mostly cattle. It is used as a cooking ingredient and the heart, kidney, liver, spleen, tongue, brain, and other organs.
The Tripe Marketing Board took the initiative to create World Tripe Day. Rumors have it that this was a satirical action designed to tell worldwide that tripe should not be treated with contempt and deserves a better place in our food options.
There are many countries where tripe is used to prepare different dishes, and tripe soup is most common in Eastern Europe.
1. From the Turkish military camps to the Romanians’ houses
This is how we get to the rock star of Romanian cuisine, the tripe soup.
Even though it was not made here for the first time, it is the most popular traditional dish. Like many other dishes loved by Romanians, the tripe soup was brought by the Ottoman military troops many centuries ago.
In the time of war, the soup was one of the favorite meals of the troops of the Ottoman Empire. For example, the chiefs of the regiments were known as always having their tents next to the kitchen tents where the lamb and the tripe soups were made. As they say in the real estate market, it’s all about location, location, location. 🙂
In the South-Eastern part of today, Romania, during the XVIIth century, tripe soup was cooked for the first time, and we like to say that it is in our country where this dish was perfected.
2. Romanian traditional tripe soup
You cannot visit Romania and not taste the Romanian tripe soup (“ciorba de burta”). You will find it in almost every traditional Romanian restaurant, and if you wish to cook it yourself, you will find the white tripe (cow’s stomach) for sale in the butchers’ shops, either fresh or frozen.
Most modern chefs do not prepare tripe soup anymore, as it needs a lot of time to wash the trip and get rid of the essence of the cow until it gets pure white. The whole washing process can last up to 3 hours, at which we need to add a couple of more hours to finish the dish.
Typical for the Romanian tripe soup should be the creamy texture given by the Romanian sour cream called “smantana” (it can be either bought from the market or make itself at home using milk from the cow), the garlic flavor and sourness from the vinegar. In some regions, root vegetables, herbs, or flavored bone can be added to make the soup even more delicious.
3. What do others say about the Romanian tripe soup?
Sour soup is always mentioned when it comes to Romanian cuisine. A Romanian journalist, Radu Anton Roman, used to say about this dish:
“it looks like it is made for drunk coachmen but it has the most sophisticated and pretentious mode of preparation in all Romanian cuisine. It’s sour and sweet, hot and velvety, fatty but delicate, eclectic and simple at the same time.”
Believe it or not, the news about the trip soup made it on the pages of the New York Times, where a travel journalist wrote after a trip he enjoyed in Romania:
“I had come to Transylvania in the winter knowing that I would be sacrificing the mountain hikes and farm stays popular among summer visitors — but hoping to find cheaper prices, snow-dusted castles and perhaps a day of skiing. And soul-satisfying food: If there was ever a dish made for post-slope replenishment, it’s Romanian ciorba de burta, the cream-based tripe soup that is rich, ubiquitous and cheap.”( Seth Kugel)
4. The Romanian Tripe soup – a traditional “cure.”
Once Hippocrates said: “Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food.” I do not think that most Romanians heard about this saying, but I have to admit that Hippocrates kind of speaks the truth of my compatriots when it comes to tripe soup. It can cure the body and the soul, no matter how high or low cholesterol it is.
The tripe soup is the perfect remedy for colds. It is prepared with garlic and vinegar, and these are the enemies of the cold. Also, tripe is low in calories and total fat and an excellent zinc and vitamin B-12 source.
Also, a hangover can be very well “cured” with tripe soup.
We hope we increased your “appetite” to try new experiences and travel, as Romania is for sure the perfect place to celebrate World Tripe Day. Book one of our tours and let your eyes and taste buds get pampered by unique places and delicious traditional dishes.
I’m not impressed by any cooks who can brag about a filet mignon. A guy who can take a neck of a shank or can use tripe to make into something delicious is really interesting to me; that’s impressive. Anthony Bourdain