Did you know that January is National Menudo Month? Seems only a logical choice since December and January are full of festivities and menudo is a traditional cruda (hangover) cure.
Menudo is typically cooked in the biggest pot the chef has on hand. In 2018, Juanita’s Foods in California made the Guinness Book of World Records for the largest pot of menudo. Prepared in a 300-gallon kettle, weighing 2,439 lbs, 980 lbs. of tripe in beef bone stock, 600 lbs. of hominy and 171 lbs. of spices. Now that’s a lot of soup!
For those that have not had the pleasure, Mexican menudo (also known as pancita–stomach) is usually a beef tripe stew with a red chile base, not the Puerto Rican boy band from the 80s.
Menudo takes hours to cook properly, a true lesson in patience. The tripe and sometimes pancita (stomach) and patas (hooves), a whole onion, salt, and an entire garlic head are added and the soup is cooked another 4 to 7 hours. My husband adds avocado leaves and epazote (dysphania ambrosioides) leaves for flavoring.
The guajillo chiles are boiled and the seeds and stems are removed. Once soft, they are blended along with a handful of masa (tortilla dough) or if not available, a generous dash of flour. The mixture goes through the strainer into the pot.
Menudo is often garnished with oregano, onion, lime and a dash of ground chili pequin and served with corn tortillas.
If the chili guajillo is not added, it’s known as menudo blanco.
While I couldn’t find any particular reason menudo would help with hangovers, tripe is a nutrient-dense superfood, specifically zinc, niacin, folate, B12, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese and selenium and a good source of protein. If I were to hazard a guess, menudo helps an ailing body mostly because it is a hot liquid (thus reducing the dehydration often experienced after a heavy drinking episode) and the chili pequin spice perks a body up whether you like it or not!
On the other hand, some of the seasonings used have long been considered of medicinal value. For example, hojas de aguacate (avocado leaves) have been traditionally used to a headache and fatigue and hojas de epazote have been used to treat an upset stomach. So there may be something more to treating la cruda with menudo!
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