Let Them Eat Tripe! Lydie Dauphin reminisces about helping her father prepare tripe in his Touques butcher shop.
“We used to ship 80 terrines of tripe to Paris every Tuesday through Friday. I was fifteen or sixteen when I used to help out in the kitchen.”
Lydie explained to me the whole process the other day while we lingered over a plate of tripe a la mode de Caen with boiled potatoes. (For Americans, the closest comparison might be southern-cooked chitterlings, but I have to confess – sixteen years in Normandy and this is my first taste of tripe a la mode de Caen – and it’s good!
Making tripe from scratch is a long process usually begun in the butcher shop’s ‘lab’. That’s the expression used for the white tiled section of the shop which should be as close to spotless as chemist’s lab for preparation of tripe. The ‘boyau’ or ‘viscere’ are soaked in a tripier with hot water four to six times. That process takes at least half a day. The tripe are cut and then placed in a covered ‘rondeau’ to simmer the following day.
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After simmering for about six hours, it was Lydie’s job to salt, pepper and add the spices around noon along with thinly sliced carrots, pied de veau (calve’s hoof) and white wine. The tripe continues to cook for the rest of the afternoon until 5 pm. Then the butcher would take a big bowl (called a ‘cul de poule’).
He’d put the tripe in the bowl with reduced juices and pied de veau (which gelatinizes the lot). He’d let the tripe cool and put it in the fridge. Then the 2.5 kilo terrines would be sent off to Paris.
This type of preparation is called Tripes a la mode de Caen and happens to be one of the specialities of Normandy.
Another specialty called Tete de Veau (or Calve’s Head) is said to be one of President Chirac’s favorite plates but I think I can spend another sixteen years here and be perfectly content without trying Tete de Veau.