Home > Deep Prep, Gathering Ingredients > No Guts, No Glory- Tripes Les Halles

No Guts, No Glory- Tripes Les Halles

Tripes Les Halles

Dear Chef Bourdain;

Just look at that. Look at those guts, in all their pornographic glory. Such a fascinating conglomeration of glistening, bulging, tumescent sausages over a swirling swill of stewed stomach! Just gorgeous, right?

But man oh man, was the view worth the climb? It took three days to prepare and the first two were pretty stomach-churning. (See what I did there? HA! I slay me! This must be what it feels like to be Fozzie Bear.)

I put out the call for brave gastronomic adventurers to come eat Tripes Les Halles. There were a predictable amount of polite demurral, a fair number of flat-out no answers, and a small corps of intrepid eaters.  So with no small amount of excitement, I schlorped the conglomeration of guts that had been congealing in the fridge into a tray. I didn’t have the requisite earthenware casserole that would be big enough for the vast volume of offal, so I had to use one of those disposable party platters – a wise choice, it turned out. I layered on the boudin noir and chorizo, the latter of which is happily easy to find in L.A., the former not so much. And set ‘er in to stew.

When it was ready – as well as the back up pasta dish for those who arrived hungry and didn’t care to eat their fill of tripes – we got everyone together. I felt full of the “moral certainty that I was the baddest ass King Hell fearless fucking gourmand in the area”, just like you promised me. And so we took this picture, with ears in there, which I will send to you care of your publisher, in exchange for a letter of commendation and devotion. I’ve written enough of those to you at this point, hey, Tony, it’s about time you reciprocate, right?

Fearless Fucking Gourmands

I’m particularly proud of my cousin Drew, who was not so long ago, a very picky eater. But these days he’s up to try anything, even if he doesn’t necessarily finish it up. He made a point of fishing around in the platter to get a little taste of everything – both kinds of tripe, ear, pork belly,  hoof, chorizo and boudin noir.  I did the same, and here’s my plate:

A little bit of everything. And I do mean *everything*.

How to describe the taste? It’s organ meat, you know? It doesn’t taste much like liver (except the boudin noir) but doesn’t taste much like pork. It wasn’t dissimilar to the haggis I insisted friends and family eat on my birthday (sorry!) but really is its own special thing. Of course I enjoyed the chorizo, I have it with eggs fairly often on weekends. The pork belly was delicious, and the tripes (honeycomb and feathered) strangely tolerable. The black sausages reminded me an awful lot of the time my dog, Assistant  Chef Bourdain (AKA  Blink) got into a bag of blood meal garden fertilizer. In fact, it basically IS blood meal garden fertilizer, wrapped in intestines.

But you know, Chef, as off-putting as the smell was while it was cooking, at the end of the day it was pretty good. I wouldn’t make it again on purpose because of the difficulty (but not expense!) of gathering ingredients and the chore of three days of cooking. But if someone else made it, I would eat it “without reservations”. (HA! There I go again, wokka wokka wokka!)

There was definitely a secret to enjoying the evening though. I don’t want to spell it out, it’s best if other fearless fucking gourdmands discover the secret to King Hell bad-assery themselves. But I’ll give you a hint.

Fearlessness in a glass...

I can’t speak for all the attendees, but at the end of the night I thoroughly enjoyed the meal, as much for the novelty as anything else. I didn’t have any of the emergency pasta, and was satisfied. Quite satisfied.

That is the look of a satisfied King Hell

So okay chef, this was probably the one meal that it was going to be hardest to get people to come and enjoy – but they did, and we did. I’m sticking to some of the less-esoteric, less guts-based recipes for a little while, but this was certainly an experience.

Offal in all its various forms is the cuisine of people who have to make do with what they can get. It takes time, effort and love to make some of the hardest-to-swallow stuff palatable, but it can be done. We’re inheritors of all that tradition, but the easy access to only the simplest to prepare cuts and “best” quality meats means we’ve lost touch with a lot of that heritage. I’m happy to try anything that someone somewhere cherishes as precious. I’m happy to receive the benefit of all that tradition…even if I’m also happy to resort to a nice bone-in t-bone done medium raw with just a  little bit of salt, too.

Funny how some of the best foods are so simple – beautiful tomatoes tossed in a little olive oil with some salt; fresh steaks seared and finished with just a touch of salt and pepper, asparagus sauteed and seasoned. When the ingredients are lovely like that, all you can do is get in the way of them. But when all you’ve got to work with is a steaming pile of guts, it takes a lot of effort to make it work. It’s easy to think that means it’s just not worth it, but if that’s the attitude we always take, we’ll completely lose touch with our past, with our history. And there’s no surer connection to our ancestors than this, to eat the very same things that they ate, handed down from the past, right onto our plates. There’s no more visceral way to understand that tradition than to actually, literally taste it.

But you know, they had some nice red wine to go with it, too. Just sayin’.

Thanks for the history lesson, Chef!

Davy

P.S. As is clear from the following video, Chef – my new camera takes much better pictures, but I still don’t really know how to control it, or edit it. But here’s a video from guts-night. I’m drunk and self-satisfied, so forgive my smugness.

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  1. Carson
    July 25, 2011 at 10:19 AM

    Hello fellow food adventurer! I’m working my way through the Les Halles book as well and took the first steps to this dish today- I successfully found a butcher that can get me everything I asked for, and the lady I talked to on the phone didn’t even bat an eye. I think she knew. That said I went through about twenty places before I got to this one. Any tips on cooking/eating?

    • July 25, 2011 at 10:27 AM

      Yes, here is a very important tip – do the first two steps outdoors. No, seriously – get a portable burner, and boil that tripe outside your house. It really, profoundly stinks. And unless you’re crazy for tripe, it will pervade every nook and cranny, every room and every crevice. So yeah, let it boil outdoors. The final step smells wonderful, and you can do it right in the oven as suggested. It needs a really big container though, so I used a disposable aluminum tray that I got at Costco, and it was perfect.

      Also, I would maybe recommend not really telling your friends what you’re making before you invite them over. I wish I had thought of that.

  2. Carson
    July 25, 2011 at 3:19 PM

    Awesome. I’ve got a propane stove top that will work perfectly. Good plan on not warning people in advance. Also, even though you didn’t end up using it, having the standby dish was a good plan too. Wish me luck, the butcher tells me they’ll have everything in two to three days.

    • July 25, 2011 at 3:21 PM

      Are you keeping track of your endeavors? Let me know and I’ll cross-link.

  3. Carson
    July 30, 2011 at 10:19 AM

    I’m not keeping track of anything yet. Bad news on the tripe though, the butcher called back and I discovered I could only get some of the stuff in twenty pound orders. I have a few lunatic friends that are up for it, but not enough to warrant buying twenty pounds. I’ve put the tripe on the back burner (figuratively) for the moment. In keeping with the blood and guts plan for last week I went with veal tongue, the tomato salad, creme brule, and Soupe au Pistou instead. It was definitely one of the best meals I’ve done. The tongue will be making regular appearences on my table from now on.

  1. February 2, 2011 at 12:29 PM
  2. February 12, 2011 at 3:48 PM
  3. February 25, 2011 at 7:21 PM
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  6. July 14, 2011 at 1:22 PM

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