Tag Archives: menudo

National Menudo Month

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 ambrosioidesleaves 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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Failing at your own business–juice and menudo

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I was finding living without electricity very difficult, so I rented a small ‘local’ (it’s like a garage with a bathroom) in town to use for my computer. I didn’t have any commercial use in mind, didn’t even bother to open the ‘cortina’ (garage door). I just did my planning for school and made up the exams. I was there maybe 3 hours a week.

That seemed wasteful to my husband. He thought I should do something to at least make enough money to pay the rent. Ok, like what? Well, we could sell juice. All right. We had an electric juicer and his mother loaned us an orange juicer. We started with carrot and orange juice. Freshly made juice is sold in little bags with a straw in it, closed with a rubber band.

So we sold juices from 8 am to 11 am every day. We did ok, but I had rented the ‘local’ on the basis of proximity to La Yacata, not its commercial viability. It wasn’t a heavily trafficked area. The neighborhood residents were not well-to-do and less apt to buy something they could make in their own kitchen.

pozole

So the juices phased out, to be replaced by menudo (a traditional Mexican soup made with cow stomach) on the weekends. My husband was an excellent cook and his menudo with an occasional pozole (soup made with corn and pig feet) were delicious. Unfortunately, as these were early morning soups with the reputation of being cures for hangovers, and take hours to prepare, we had to start the evening before and cook all night.

As with the juices, we sold what we made, but didn’t see much profit. So we closed again.

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