Rumen: Menudo Blanco from La Tolteca

Despite what the supermarket aisle may lead you to believe, there's more to an animal than neatly wrapped styrofoam trays of meat. From tongue to tail, offal (pronounced awful) encompasses all those taboo edibles that don't make the cut at your local grocer. Just Offal is here to explore these oft-neglected byproducts of butchering, featuring different offal meals from establishments across the Valley.

This week: Rumen in Menudo Blanco from La Tolteca

The Ick Factor: Stomachs digesting stomach. It's an odd thought, but if you can get over the mind trip, tripe can certainly reward you with some good eats. The type of tripe in menudo is generally rumen, which is flat and smooth tripe, and sometimes a little bit of reticulum for that honeycomb texture. You'll hardly ever see omasum in menudo though, so stick to super everything pho and dim sum for that ribbon tripe.

At La Tolteca, make sure to snag some chopped cilantro, limes, onions and other accoutrement from their salsa bar in order to give your menudo an extra kick. We dug into our bowl of menudo with so much abandon that we forgot to snap a picture with all those colorful goodies, so learn from our mistakes and accent well!

(bite into all the juicy details after the jump)

The Offal Choice: A huge bowl of menudo from La Tolteca, blanco-style rather than building off a red chile base. This menudo was jam packed with squares of tripe, stew bones, and hominy.

Tastes Just Like: Really greasy calamari. The texture of rumen is a bit funky and can be pretty chewy since it's been boiled for a good long while in a pot of stock. There's also a reason menudo is known as a hangover cure, because it's loaded with plenty of greasy goodness from lots of slow-cooked knuckles, hooves, and other marrow-filled bones. This unctuous combination works well in favor of the rumen, which is a bit nutty and a bit musky, but does well taking on the flavor of what it's cooked with.

Always been a DIY-er? In addition to ordering just about anything off of La Tolteca's extensive menu, you can also pick up a giant soup pot and all the ingredients on site to whip up some killer menudo blanco. And if it's your first go round, try getting a quart of their menudo blanco to-go, so that even if you fall (just a bit) short of ideal, at least you've got a backup.

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Erica O'Neil