Giovanni Scorzo Makes Sublime Trippa alla Fiorentina at Andreoli Italian Grocer

When it comes to tripe, we Americans have it exactly backwards. We don't have a problem reading tripe, viewing tripe, or listening to tripe. We even spout a good bit of it ourselves on Facebook and Twitter. As a culture, we pretty much swim in the stuff.

But the other kind of tripe -- the mild-tasting, faintly spongy-textured stomach lining of cows, oxen, or sheep, eaten with reckless abandon in nearly every country in the world? THAT tripe deeply offends us.

Go figure.

For all 12 of you who already like this particular type of offal -- maybe in menudo or tacos -- run don't walk to Andreoli Italian Grocer, where chef-owner Giovanni Scorzo proves that peasant food can be sublime.

The tripe found on most menus in Phoenix (and at Andreoli) is beef tripe, which has two stomach chambers and three kinds of tripe within. Because all of them are a bit chewy, they require long cooking. Honeycomb tripe, whose inner side has a pattern reminiscent of a honeycomb, is the most tender and subtly flavored.

Scorzo (so strict he's been compared to the Soup Nazi) offers tripe as a special every couple of weeks, preparing a hearty tripe and bean soup in the cooler months and the classic Trippa alla Fiorentina when it's warmer ($18). Not that this dish is exactly light.

But, oh, my, it's delicious and blessedly simple: two kinds of tripe -- the smooth, flat pianina and the honey-combed centopelle -- braised with Italian tomatoes, onion, and a bit of carrot. Served in a shallow bowl and sprinkled with grated Parmigiano Reggiano before service, it's ultra-rich comfort food, best mopped up with a hunk of Scorzo's excellent house-made bread.

BTW, the French make a similar (and perhaps more famous) dish called tripes à la mode de Caen: tripe, onion, carrot, and cider. Doubt if it can beat this one.

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