I love Trippa and Lampredotto!
I remember the first time I tasted Lampredotto.
It was when I was 22 and within my first few weeks of arriving in Florence for the first time. One of my classmates from where I was learning Italian, I think his name was Tyler, was a chef in training and asked me if I wanted to taste something one day at lunch. He said, “I’m not going to tell you what it is but if you don’t like it, I’ll eat it.” So I tasted my first panino al lampredotto and sadly for Tyler, I loved every bite of it!
I then tasted Trippa alla Fiorentina and loved that too! I learnt to cook tripe in those first years in Florence and I remember my father was very pleased when I returned home from Italy and cooked him a big plate of Trippa. My mother had never cooked it at home as she was not a big fan of any type of offal.
The tripe is cooked slowly in a really good tomato sauce (sugo) and then sprinkled with parmesan cheese when served. I also like to add a generous dose of freshly ground black pepper.
Originally a poor man’s dish in the 1400s, by the 1800s, cooked tripe was sold from painted wooden carts, pushed by hand and later, attached to bicycle mechanisms to pedal them about.
I have quite a few favourite places to eat a “panino al lampredotto” and “la trippa.” If I want a quick lunch and the street experience, then I will eat at the mobile tripe stands. This is real ‘Street-food Fiorentino-style’.
My two favourites are at the Mercato di Porcellino and the second in Via Dante Alighieri in Piazza De’ Cimatori behind Via Dei Calzaiuoli. The latter is great because it is always open, even late on a Sunday afternoon. If I eat the panino with the lampredotto, I’ll have it with the Salsa Verde, which is traditionally made with parsley, celery, garlic and olive oil, salt & pepper. You can also have a hot chilli sauce and I sometimes have a little bit of that too. The bread roll is sliced in half and then dipped quickly into the broth where the lampredotto has been cooked. This just adds to the whole delicious experience! And of course, the panino is best accompanied with a glass of Chianti! This lunch is a favourite of mine when wandering through Florence on a Sunday afternoon, usually in the Autumn and Winter months.
When I eat Tripe at the street stalls, I usually get it in a dish instead of inside a bread roll. I prefer to just taste the tripe and it’s less messy this way too. It’s typical for me to be wearing a white shirt when I choose to eat something like tripe in a tomato sauce and if eating it from a roll, then odds are that half is going to end up down my front!
My other favourite place to eat these Florentine delights is at Nerbone, at the Central Market San Lorenzo. Before we had children, we would go to this market every Saturday morning and then after we had finished buying our weekly food at the market, we would stop at Nerbone for lunch. This very popular and historical eatery has been operating in the market since 1872. It is owned by the same people that own the restaurant, Alla Vecchia Bettola. Apart from the wonderful tripe and lampredotto, they also serve various pasta dishes, roast beef, bollito (boiled meats) and vegetables which change according to the season.
The offal of butchered animals is commonly called the quinto quarto in Italy which means quite literally, the “fifth quarter”. The name makes sense on more than one level: because offal amounts to about a fourth of the weight of the carcass and because in the past slaughterhouse workers were partly paid in kind with a share of the offal.
Lampredotto is made from the fourth and final stomach of the cow, the Abomasum. It is a beige brown colour and has a very wrinkly appearance. Doesn’t sound that attractive I know and I have to admit both tripe and lampredotto do not look very appetizing at all. But you must put any preconceptions you may have about tripe and lampredotto aside and at least give it a try.
And if you don’t like it, I promise I’ll eat whatever you leave behind!