Reveling in the unfamiliar when it comes to food

Tripe was a risky order, that ended up a favorite
Reveling in the unfamiliar when it comes to food
Eric Tadsen
Tripe from A Pig in a Fur Coat

For me, traveling is always an adventure; an opportunity to discover new food. As a student visiting Paris, I was eager to use my high school French at a restaurant. Beyond à la carte and “service compris,” the menu was a great mystery.

From the long list, I fearlessly selected Gras Double à la Lyonnaise. After all, Lyon was the food capital of France, so how could I go wrong? A plate of what looked like honeycombed noodles smothered in onions with a sprinkle of parsley soon confronted me.

Swallowing my pride, I asked the English-speaking waiter what it was. “Tripe,” he replied. Knowing that tripe is the stomach lining of a domesticated animal, I blanched. But then I dug in, determined to like it, and I did.

It was cold with the texture of squid and a subtle flavor akin to liver. A lifetime later, encountering tripe at A Pig in a Fur Coat was like finding a long-lost friend. One taste of the dish, soulfully prepared with pork tripe, egg, navy beans, greens, tomatoes and bread crumbs, and I was a young man in Paris again.