I have been absolutely obsessed with tripe soup for the past month or so. It is all that I want to eat. Last week I went to Vancouver and of course mom made me a huge pot of tripe soup, which I ate daily and packed the leftovers in my clothes luggage to take home on the airplane. I mean, anybody who knows anything about me and my clothing relationship understands what a big obsession this must be if I am willing to spill soup over my precious cashmere sweaters. It didn't matter, I took the soup home, it reached destination safely, and I had a small amount of it every day, until yesterday it was all GONE! That was definitely a point of crisis for me, as I still only want to eat tripe soup and nothing else.
So I went through town looking for tripe. For those of you who don't know what tripe is, here is a picture. It is stomach tissue from cow or sheep, more frequently from cow. It is quite a specific Romanian dish, and not even all Romanians like it, in fact it is safe to say more than half probably don't, and my mom is one of them, despite the fact that she makes a rocking tripe soup. But fortunately for us, displaced Romanians, the Chinese population in Vancouver has some sort of use for it, so we buy it plentifully and wonderfully pre-cleaned of its membranous covers at the Asian Supermarkets. My little town has a butcher shop and three supermarkets, none of them Asian. The butcher shop at least heard of tripe, but I don't think he ever had any in stock. The supermarket people looked at me a bit strange, trying to figure out if it is my accent or if I am truly mad, and then told me innocently that they don't know what tripe is. I didn't want to risk explaining too much out of fear of being an outcast in society, even more than I am after the aspic story.
So I did the unthinkable: I made tripe soup without tripe. And, aside from the fact that it lacks the...main ingredient, it turned out a pretty nice rich soup that can keep me going until I get some shipped express from Vancouver, or until I find a nice cow willing to donate one of her many stomachs for a good cause.
In case anyone wants to know, here is how you make it: Clean the tripe. It takes forever, so rather buy it cleaned. Boil some bones, preferably legs that make the soup gelatinous, but any bones will do, with some meat on them, I chose cow (to keep the theme going). Boil them and boil them until the water goes down a bit (2 hours). Add one onion, one carrot, one parsnip, and one potato. Boil those too. When soft, blend them and add them to the soup, take out the bones, separate the meat and put it back in the soup, add salt. Then, the tricky part: take two eggs and beat them a bit, add 2 tbsp vinegar and 1.5 cups of sour cream. Mix the whole lot well, and, with the soup off the heat (but still hot) mix this egg-sourcream blend into the soup, constantly whisking. DO NOT BOIL again afterwards, or the egg will curdle. Then, take two cloves garlic, smash them, and put them in a sieve in the soup for a while, until the soup smells garlicky, then chuck them (keep the sieve though). Eat the soup hot, with vinegar mixed in and a bit more garlic if you're not married to my husband, who has a sensitive olfactory system.
It is so good I could die. And, even without the tripe, I had three servings today. I think I will eat it non stop until it is done. Sooooo happy!