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Roll call - who has tried chitlins or tripe and what's your opinion?

  • p

In case you don't know, chitlins are hog intestines and certainly not for the faint of heart. There are two ways of cooking them either fried or boiled. I like boiled served over rice with hot sauce. With chitlins you must trust the cook to make sure the chitlins are cleaned and that all the chit is removed ( that's the nicest way I can say it ).

In South Carolina we celebrate the lowly chitlin each year with a festival in it's honor - the Salley,S.C. Chitlin Strut. Venders sell t-shirts which read "we got the guts to strut". When they cook those several tons of chitlins in Salley it is said that all the trees within several miles instantaneously drop their leaves.

Just a few inches removed from chitlins is the wonderful dish from stomach called tripe. I always liked beef tripe a little better than pork tripe. IMO tripe is better fried. The stringy texture is unique and not unlike cuddlefish.

Some may find this discussion distasteful but it would be a boring world if we didn't have diversity in our foods. And yes I've tried mountain oysters but they don't compare IMO to chitlins or tripe.

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  1. Tried them several times, don't particularly like them.

    1. a
      anon. this time

      Paul, we are really glad you found Chowhound. Really, we are. You seem to be someone of Southern heritage (as am I) who is proud of their unique regional foods, and loves to talk about them (see: SC-BBQ birthplace, boiled peanuts and yankees, chitlins/tripe). But what's next? Squirrel: the other white meat
      or armadillo: better than opossum, really!!
      I have a hard time taking your posts seriously.
      I don't mean this as a personal attack, but you seem to be a culinary "bomb thrower".

      9 Replies
      1. re: anon. this time

        Speaking as an Illinois boy who grew up eating squirrel rather more often than rabbit, I fail to understand your incredulity...although anyone who'd call squirrel "white meat" clearly knows nothing about it.

        Never had possum, but I'd certainly try it if it were offered. I do have a couple of cookbooks with recipes for it. As for armadillo, well, there are frozen ones in the meat cases of quite a few Asian markets near where I live, though I must say I'm not tempted...

        1. re: Will Owen

          I have been bugging my dad to keep any of the squirrels he shoots (to keep them away from his bird feeders) so I can try cooking them, but he never calls when he gets one. I'm really curios to see what it's like. I also want to try ground hog, but it's probably really greasy. I figure if you're shooting it why let it go to waste? I know I sound like a redneck, I just like to try new things.

          1. re: Will Owen

            Possum is good. A little bit chewy, but tasty.

          2. re: anon. this time

            Hello Anon (c.hound staff?),

            Those armidillos have indeed moved up from Florida and are all over S.C. We just refer to them here as possom on-the-half shell. I've tried possom, but like squirrel, it's too greasy for my likings. Plus you have to catch'em, pen'em up, and feed'em for a few weeks before eating them.

            I don't know that I'd consider my posts as bomb shells. I have tried to provide honest information based upon real life experiences. Grew up on a farm and recall a way of life that might seem foreign to you. When I speak of chitlins I know what it's like to butcher a hog. I only saw one negative reply and that was from someone who didn't understand what it means to stay up all night with your buddies, drink beer and cook a pig. I hope that I have been able to inject some homespun humor into a website that shouldn't take itself too seriosly. Afterall, one definition of chowhound is a "glutton".

            The Sterns took me serious enough to quote me and use my material in several of their books. I've also had reviews published locally. Working on a piece for "The Sandlapper" magazine now on a Mennonite grist mill and restaurant. Imagine eating shoofly pie while watching your grits get ground?

            Now Anon tell me the truth. Had you rather have a board full of unusual characters with colorful posts or one full of food snobs with bland posts? If the two can't coexist I don't mind moving on.

            1. re: Paul in S.C.

              Paul, the Chow Team doesn't leave notes in this way or with this sort of message or tone. We welcome all voices and all chow opinions (so long as they're friendly and non-commercial).

              The moderators are shuddering that anyone would think they'd post something like this. Please keep enjoying the site, and try to ignore anonymous trolls.


              1. re: Jim Leff

                Well I appreciate your reply. Hope I haven't been too controversial so far.

                1. re: Paul in S.C.

                  Paul, I am a constant reader, and rare poster on CH, and your posts are some of my favorites and most informative. My dad grew up during the depression on a farm, and his stories are just like yours! Keep on posting, and don't let one bad apple ruin your day!

                  1. re: JudyHP

                    Judy, Thanks for the kind words. As you know I'm new to this site but not new to my love for "food culture". As interesting as the food may be the people and stories are often the most entertaining. I am amazed to discover that so many people all over the world like tripe and chitlins. I'll keep posting.

            2. re: anon. this time

              We are leaving your highly inappropriate posting because the replies are interesting. Please don't take it upon yourself to squelch discussion. This is a forum where many viewpoints may be expressed, and we expect all users to show tolerance for their fellow hounds and let a zillion topics bloom.

              This WAS intended as a personal attack (which are against our rules), or else you'd have posted under your own nametag. Postings under alias are postings that oughtn't to have been made....and, FYI, use of alternative nametags is cause for banning under our rules (link below). Please don't repeat.


              Link: http://www.chowhound.com/boards/posti...

            3. I have had chitlins several times, and even made them once or twice. I have only had them boiled, and you are right about trusting the cook. They were delicious, and I wish I lived in an area where they were more readily available in restaurants. I would make them myself more often, but I am the only one I know who likes them.

              The only way I have ever had tripe is in menudo, which I also enjoy very much. I am fairly sure that pork tripe is used around here, but that's OK with me. And thankfully there is no shortage of places around me that make it at least as a special on weekends.

              1. while i haven't tried chitlins, i have had boiled seal intestines. once you get past the idea, they're pretty good. similar to a tough noodle. i imagine pretty much any boiled intestine would be similar.

                like another respondent below, my tripe experience has been limited to menudo, which i found very good.

                1. I've tried tripe twice - once in the form of andouillettes in Paris many years ago and, most recently, at a dim sum house in NYC last weekend. I just don't get it. I found the texture most unpleasant - it was kind of like trying to chew rubber bands.

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: Deenso

                    Andouillettes are made with intestines, not tripe. The only ones I tried in Paris were not rubbery at all, but quite tender. My wife liked them, too, which amused me because she always claims that though she likes tripe she'd NEVER eat chitterlings...so I showed her a recipe for andouillettes!

                    1. re: Will Owen
                      fai jay (fai jackson)

                      I don't think you are correct. I always thought andouillettes were made with tripe and were to be purchased at a triperie. Only in France is there a tripe speciallity store? All that said, the first time I was in Paris, having read about that noble sausage, I ordered it my first night. I did not love it and never ordered it again, but maybe next time.

                      I had delicous tripe in Florence, that you purchase from the tripe stand near Dante's house and American Express.

                      1. re: fai jay (fai jackson)

                        Could be that the French simply file all that GI stuff under "tripe" as far as selling it goes. Anyway, I looked up andouillettes in Larousse Gastronomique and it said they were made from intestines, and then in a charcuterie book that (oddly enough) my wife had given me was a set of illustrations showing how intestine is cut into narrow longitudinal strips and stuffed into casings...but now we're getting into Home Cooking!

                        1. re: Will Owen
                          fai jay (fai jackson)

                          When your right your right. I guess the triperie threw me off. Sorry, and thanks for the answer.

                        2. re: fai jay (fai jackson)

                          > Only in France is there a tripe speciallity store?

                          Not only in France... In Spain, too. And probably a lot of other places.

                          I've never had a chewy tripe. It's usually very soft and slightly spongy. I live in a big tripe-eating neighborhood (in the form of Callos a la Madrileña) and eat it quite a bit. I think it produces a really good soup/stew, though I don't enjoy the tripe itself all that much.

                          But my favorite is fried sheeps intestines wrapped around twigs (zarajos). A specialty of Cuenca, but available in most low-rent bars/churrerías in my 'hood. Don't knock it till you've tried it.

                      2. re: Deenso

                        Yeah, I was a little squeemish about trying tripe until a non English-speaking inlaw slipped me a dish of menudo. The texture was not at all rubbery, but light and springy.

                        That emboldened me to try menudo other places and ... when tripe is good, it is very, very good, when it is bad it is horrid. One go around was huge pieces that were like the rubber band texture you mentioned. I could almost hear the cow mooing on each bite.

                        Recently I had menudo at a upscale Mexican restaurant and it was the most amazingly wonderful thing I ever tried ... melt in your mouth tender.

                        I guess just read Chowhound for descriptions of good places that serve it. Or only order it at places you know and trust do other dishes well. I hope you'll try sometime in the future. It can be great.

                      3. Stuff called Pepper Pot Soup used to be huge in Philadelphia (PA). Main ingredient is Tripe. Nasty.

                        1. I've had tripe in menudo, pho and as a dish at dim sum. Loved all of it. I've also enjoyed tripas tacos which, I believe - and someone correct me if I'm wrong - are more closely related to chitlins than tripe.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Matt

                            Yup, Tripas are intestines... My father loves them... but no one else in my family does... my mother used to make them in the broiler... :P I also don't like Tripe (NEVER developed the taste for Menudo and other innard dishes!). It's texture flavor thing working in combo... :P


                          2. Pig intestine plays a starring role in many Chinese dishes. I've had it deep-fried with dipping sauce on the side, stir-fried with crunchy vegetables, sauteed in brown sauce, served in a casserole. It's also served with congee, served broiled, served with salty preserved vegetables, served Sichuan-style with chili and Sichuan peppper. It's delicious! Koreans like it too, so do Romanians, who call it drob. I've also had a Chinese dish consisting of an egg souflee garnished with fish intestines.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: Brian S

                              By the way, I've noticed that there are a lot of dishes popular in southern China that look as if they came from a southern US country kitchen. For example, big slabs of pork belly are sauteed in a slightly sweet sauce and then served atop a bed of salty vegetables that look and taste like minced collard greens, all in a big clay pot or on a heated iron skillet.

                              1. re: Brian S

                                Yup. The first time I hung out with a bunch of Southerners and talked about what I liked to eat, they told me I grew up in the wrong state. I love CA, but the South has some goooood eats.

                                Intestine, tripe (are there three kinds of tripe? Or do they have different names in English?), heart, blood. It's all fair game. And my sisters and I fight over the chicken gizzards, too.

                              2. re: Brian S

                                i remember that one of the few dishes that my korean grandfather loved to make was a beef intestine/tripe stir fry dish that was super-spicy, using go-chu jang (spicy hot chili pepper paste) as the main seasoning with some garlic soy sauce and sesame. i distinctly remember the smell before it was cooked but it was actually very good with all the seasonings masking it.

                              3. m
                                Morton the Mousse

                                I had pork tripe braised in tomato sauce a few weeks back and it was delicious. The texture wasn't too rubbery, it was springy and pleasant. Interesting after taste. I would definitely order it again. BTW, this was in a nice Italian restaurant in the SF Bay Area - offal is actually becoming quite trendy in the culinary scene. (Although when I talked to the chef after dinner he admitted that only one other person ordered the tripe that night. Perhaps it's more paopular among chefs than it is among diners.)

                                1. I like tripe. If it shows up on the carts at a Dim Sum meal I always get it. I like Pho with tripe, beef tendon and rare steak. Menudo is a fav, I'm in California so real Mexican food is available but I also love a Basque tripe dish.

                                  In the mexican/chinese stores there are usually three kinds of tripe. I forget the names but one is called booked tripe. There are lot's of European tripe dishes too which i usually get when I see them on a menu which is rare.. I like the crunchy texture and the tooth of the stuff. It's sort of like liver, it's an acquired taste.

                                  Once I was having Dim Sum lunch with a Chinese friend of mine and he commented the the tripe was very good "not gritty". We laughed for days about that, thinking about what "gritty" really meant! Every time we ate somewhere, no matter what we ate, the comment was always "and it's not gritty either". :-)

                                  I'm glad you started this thread. I think my fav tripe recipe is the Basque one.


                                  1. Trippa alla Fiorentina, Tripes Provençale, Pepper Pot soup, menudo...YUM!! I do love tripe, and want to try just about every tripe recipe I see. I'm not so crazy about most Asian treatments, since their taste runs to the crunchy/rubbery end of the tripe spectrum, but I can deal with it now I've gotten used to it. And yes, it comes in three types: honeycomb, book, and another one I can't remember. I know one of'em's called "double gras" in French cookbooks...

                                    Only had chitlins once, at a food concession run by an organization called The Sisters of Isis at the Tennessee State Fair. I think they still have it on their menu board, but they never seem to have it available...and the one time I got some, the nice elderly woman taking my order seemed to be struggling with the concept of an extremely white middle-aged guy actually ordering this instead of the excellent fried chicken. I enjoyed them very much, though the hot sauce certainly helped; they do have the ghost of a "whang", a smidge of gaminess that could put a tender soul off. But the first (and best!) menudo I ever ate, at Topolobampo in Chicago, had a bit of a stockyard whiff as well, which only made it even more interesting.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Will Owen

                                      I'm with you...I went to Italy and had tripe everywhere I went. I love it. But the thin crunchy strips in a bowl of pho are not nearly as wonderful.

                                    2. Most likely anyone who had any decent sausage in their lives, have had intestines. Most non-commercial sausages are stuffed in intestines.

                                      Greeks have a dish called kokoretsi which is organ meats wrapped in intestines. Jews have kishki. Most cultures in the world have something that incorporates organ meats, I find it more humane in a way that if you kill a cow better use the whole thing not just the loin part.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: welle

                                        Good point. I grew up on a farm and we butchered hogs at the first frost. Several of the neighbors would pitch in and they would all get certain parts of the hog in payment for their work. Absolutely nothing was wasted. My mother told me stories of using hog bladders as toy balloons when she was a child on the farm.

                                      2. Been having tripe and other internal organs and blood and chicken and duck feet, etc. since I was a small kid. Standard dim sum fare.

                                        1. My father worked in a laboratory as a chemist. Periodically, he would take my mother's homemade Pepperpot (tripe) soup with him for lunch. He would heat the soup up in a clear glass beaker. I saw him do it once and the sight of those thousands of little tripe "fingers" crawling around on the inside walls of that beaker pretty much eliminated any desire I had for the stuff and will be with me till the day I die.

                                          1. I've tasted horrible menudo (nasty tripe) in several Mexican restaurants, and I've gourmandized on delicious menudo (scrupulously cleaned and well cooked tripe) prepared in a home kitchen. I always order pho with tripe and other stuff at my favorite noodle shop, and it is quite different--a subtle, clean taste and pleasant texture. I've never tried chitterlings but I want to if I can feel confident that they are properly prepared. The late Craig Claiborne claimed to love them.


                                            1. Had chitlins once 50 years ago in Florida as breakfast side. Would defintely not order again.

                                              Had tripe in a soup in a South Tucson restaurant 25 years ago. Can't remember exactly, it may have been menudo. While it wasn't too bad, there are dozens of soups I like better--such as the lamb/chickpea soup
                                              recently featured in the NY Times magazine.

                                              1. Chinese Dimsum - little metal steamer with a square of tripe steamed with herbs, vegetables and seasonings.

                                                My impression: Why am I eating this rubbery, flavorless stuff? Steam a fish, steam anything else, the preparation is fine but the main ingredient leaves me cold.

                                                1. In Cantonese cuisine, fried intestines are often eaten with pickled turnip or carrots to cut the richness. As others have said, it's a very commonly used ingredient throughout the world (Latin America, Europe, Asia).

                                                  re: the little digresion on blood below, I kinda prefer it fresh, as in the sauce of carnard a la Rouenaise, rather than the coagulated version commonly used in Chinese soups and porridges.

                                                  1. I don't know how I escaped eating chitlins. I certainly smelled enough of them cooking! But I'll eat tripe anyway you cook it. My first initiation was canned tripe. This was easily back in the late 40s when I was in grade school. The tripe was floured, fried, probably in lard, and dosed with vinegar. I considered it the most exotic meal I'd ever had. Batter fried tripe makes a terrific sandwich, with lots of yellow mustard. Love tripe!

                                                    1. If you were going to venture away from Southern tripe and try new tripe dishes I think I'd start you out with Mexican menudo. I eat quite a bit of tripe and if you're already fond of spicy tripe, you'd probably dig a tripe stew in a spicy chili broth and hominy.

                                                      I'm also not wild about dim sum style tripe as it's sort of spongy and boring to me. I do really enjoy tripe with black bean sauce ho fun style, which I get once in awhile, the black bean sauce is a bit vinegar-y and really goes well with the tripe. I'll get Vietnamese pho with tripe sometimes but I don't really ever 'crave' it, I'm just in the mood sometimes.

                                                      Oh, and I think I just recently read something about some amazing tripe sandwich they have somewhere in NYC that I want to try, sounded mighty tasty.

                                                      1. As a lover of organ meats, i love both. Being from NYC i wish i had more opportunity to eat intestines southern style. My favourite place for it is at Nyona in Chinatown. They are fried crisp then cooked in a sweet/salty sauce. Dont really know what the sauce is but its real good. This is sometimes a special there.
                                                        As for tripe, i love it soft european style or crunchy asian style. the texture of the crunchy style reminds me of a cephalopod of some sort. Nothing beats a tripe sandwich though on the streets of Rome. That was the best i have ever had.

                                                        As for organ meats i also eat tongue wherever i see it and from whatever animal it comes from. Gizzards too, though you dont see these on too many menus. I usually just roast mine with the chicken.

                                                        1. As a born and bred South Carolininan, of course I've tried it all and will not eat chitlins.

                                                          Literally, it is crap and it stinks to high heaven while it is being cooked.

                                                          Same with sweetbreads.

                                                          I was sitting outside at the bar at Louis's Fish Camp in Pawleys Island and some guy who had no idea what he was eating ordered the sweetbreads.

                                                          He cleared out the bar area they smelled so bad.

                                                          1. I like organ meat; I'll eat liver, gizzards, tongue, sweetbreads, even brains (love em) but tripe? Just can't get into it.

                                                              1. Sweetbreads are my favorite, so I do like organ meat, but I don't like chitlins and I only eat tripe with pho. Other than that, I can do without both. Even though I'm from Virginia, which is technically south of the Mason-Dixon, I still consider myself the type of Virginian that eats from the Chesapeake. Give me blue crab any time of day any day of the week.

                                                                1. Sadly, I didn't care for my experience with chitlins. A student in a program I was running brought some that her mom had made and I tried them. To me, they tasted liked spiced "chit." I will try them again elsewhere if I have the chance, but really that bite of chitlin was a low for my taste buds.

                                                                  Paul, might you be the right person to answer a post on cooking a whole pig? We are thinking of doing so at some point (have been to a few pig roasts and helped out but have never done my own).

                                                                  1. Never tried chitlins (would like to).

                                                                    I love tripe; it's the only organ meat I really love.

                                                                    Polish flaczki - tripe stew, the Chinese dim sum version, Vietnamese pho (sach), Mexican menudo, French gras double and some South American dish that was amazing. I don't remember the name of the latter. Now I'm craving some!

                                                                    1. I have had chitlins a few times. Made by an illiterate man who ran a soul food place in Colorado. I quite enjoyed them. Learned from him that they have a season.

                                                                      Tripe is fantastic when done well. Have had menudo and a tripe and bean thing at a Portugese resturant in Zimbabwe, both were great. On the other hand I have had a smoked tripe soup in Uganda that was not so good and grilled tripe on a stick in Rwanda (a local favorite) that can be good or bad depending on the freshness and spicing.

                                                                      I just had a conversation about tripe with a Kenyan coworker and she believes American tripe is too clean. She thinks the butcher needs to leave some stuff on the tripe for extra flavor.

                                                                      1. Oh man. One of the most awful food experiences of my life involved being tricked, at age 8, into eating chitlins, by the mother of my best friend. Wowza, what an unpleasant flavor. And I didn't even know what they were -- I just knew (after running to the bathroom to spit the stuff into the toilet) that "I don't want any more of that gray meat!" It was only later on that I learned what exactly I'd been given. Yuk. Put me off ever trying tripe, which I concede can probably be very tasty... for someone else. That's just one place I'm not going. (And as for sausages, well, I just pretend it's not intestine. Shhh.)

                                                                        1. Life would be incomplete without a steaming bowl of menudo on occasion.

                                                                          1. I've had Chitlins twice! Once staright from the pig... Of course after they'd been cleaned and boiled and seasoned. Those were GREAT!!! I had a few, and just the thought of what they were made it difficult to eat, but I had eaten Squid before, and it was sorts the same, so it was okay! I was in Mexico at the time, and was willing to try anything! I was going to be there for two months, so When in Rome... About two weeks later the Missionaries i was staying with had me try some BBQ flavored ones! They were past chewy and they were gritty. Like there was sand in them! I barely swallowed it! And, Mexican BBQ isn't American BBQ! NOT BY A LONG SHOT!!! That's also the last time I've eaten them!!! If they are straight from the pig... less than 5 hours old, made that day... I might try them again! But, the first time was GREAT!

                                                                            1. Depends on how they're prepared. I've had very good Chinese tripe dishes (there's a dim sum place about 20 miles from here that does a great rainy-day stew with tripe and other vaguely identifiable organs), and a local taqueria makes a tasty burrito with grilled tripe. Italian and French preparations tend to be more on the chewy side, and IMHO milder.

                                                                              BTW, if we're talking beef tripe, there are four different varieties, each with a different texture. My local Mexican grocery regularly stocks three of them.