Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Menudo, the real Culinary Cucuy

Umm...Look at that warm comforting bowl of steaming hot menudo. All around are the traditional accompaniments. Hot corn tortillas fresh off the comal. Freshly diced onions, cilantro, lemon wedges, dried oregano, even a couple of drops of Tapatio to kick it up heatwise. Nothing to fear, que no? Wrong-o, amigos. Let's look carefully at the menudo bowl.

There within lies the real Cucuy, not the hideous beasts terrorizing the citizens of a major metropolis, like "Godzilla" or "Cloverfield" on film and DVD. Not the guy on the Mexican FM radio. No, my friends, be afraid, very afraid---it is menudo bowl. Way down deep, beneath the depths of gallons of cooked hominy and chile colorado the nasty Cucuy bits are lurking: honeycomb tripe, a cloven hoof or two, and other assorted organ meats, depending on what's around. Nothing goes to waste, it's all in there. Some folks swear by this soup as a cure for the dreaded hang-over. Menudo for the crudo, as it is known in these parts.

But waiting for you inside that bowl sits a tasty treat. Surely not meant for sissies, but for fearless women and men, it is delicious beyond belief. It must get its flavor from the slow cooking of all those nasty bits. Good to eat morning, noon or night...if you are brave enough, or suffering from the bacchanalia of the night before! For those less inclined to tackle the Cucuy beast within the menudo bowl, may we suggest pozole, menudo's domesticated cousin. If you haven't tried it yet, add a bowl of menudo to your own Culinary Bucket List.

Here at La Vida Dulce we enjoy a can of Juanita's Menudito now and then. Cooking a pot of homemade menudo is EXTREMELY time consuming, due to the slow cooking required for the pata (hoof) and the tripe to become tender. Another alternative is the time-honored tradition of taking your own soup pot to the local panaderia or tortilleria early on Saturday or Sunday morning. Any way you serve it, menudo is the real cucuy!


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