The Italian Club in Muse, Washington County, has been serving tripe for more than 50 years. Club president Norman del Vecchio, who’s been an officer for 40-plus years, remembers dishing out 30 to 40 pounds of tripe and 50 pounds of spaghetti in the early years. That figure has jumped to 150 to 180 pounds of tripe and 200 pounds of spaghetti served at the club’s monthly dinners, which are $5, including bread and butter.

Of all of the wonderful-tasting foods on the planet that one could plan a dinner event around, bread for instance, or carrot cake, who was it that said, “Hmm. Know what would really be popular? A dinner fundraiser in which we combine the saucy goodness of spaghetti with the tasty rubbery gumminess of the lining of a cow’s stomach. I don’t care who you are, that’s just delicious!”

After it defrosts, it has a distinct odor that dissipates rather quickly when it’s cooking.

Let me translate that for you. IT STINKS TO HIGH HEAVEN.

“It’s almost like comfort food to them,” said Mr. Timko.

Well, sure, if you find dry heaving to be of great comfort.

And yes, I have tried tripe before, on a taco in Mexico. But I had no choice. Because the choice I did have was between octopus with actual suction cups, cow eyeballs, cow tongue, and cow stomach. I went with the lesser of the evils, I thought. I assure you, it is every bit as nasty as you would expect the LINING OF A BOVINE’S STOMACH TO TASTE!

That is, it could choke a bitch.


  1. curtO.
    May 15, 2008 2:07 pm

    Hummmm…that selection of food in Mexico…or did you mean Australia?

    PittGirl has been found out…she is –

    Amber Brkich (Mariano) from Survivor – The Australian Outback?

    I don’t know how you would eat any of those things if there wasn’t a large sum of money involved with it…

  2. Still A Fan
    May 15, 2008 2:22 pm

    i went to a cookout at a neighbor’s house a while ago. they are (apparently i can’t spell, from those little islands that sound like “weeping willow”). they had yak tongue, and a pasta dish that was like a casserole but it had squid (w cups) in it.

    now i like calamari, but this was yuck!

  3. Pensgirl
    May 15, 2008 2:25 pm

    Geez, Pittgirl, given that choice I’d have gone with “starve.” Seriously. I’d have gagged reading the menu.

  4. Christina
    May 15, 2008 2:33 pm

    This makes me think of the Simpsons where Lisa decides she’s going to be a vegetarian, and her class is forced to watch a video with Troy McClure called ‘Meat and You: Partners In Freedom’ or something like that. At the end of the video they serve them tripe:

    Lisa: They can’t seriously expect us to swallow that tripe.
    Skinner: Now as a special treat courtesy of our friends at the Meat Council, please help yourself to this tripe.

    I think the grossest part is when Ralphie is slurping it up and has a piece of it hanging out of his mouth. *shudder*

    It made me sick to look at it animated, and when I saw it on the Post Gazette’s website, I thought I would puke in my garbage can.

  5. Phil
    May 15, 2008 2:38 pm

    That looks delicious. Cleaned well, tripe is fantastic. Not cleaned well, it smells like bad feet. It’s all in the prep, and it’s the difference between a great eye-opening meal, and something that could “choke a bitch” as you so eloquently put it. :-)

    The undesirable cuts (or nasty bits) are the most underappreciated in our country, and it’s a real shame that a lot of us miss out on this. Tongues, brains, liver, kidneys, heart – it’s all good, when prepared the right way. But it’s an acquired taste if you aren’t grown up with it, as they are in countries all over the world.

    Awesome post. Food porn – my favorite.



  6. Mitch Cumstein
    May 15, 2008 2:51 pm

    Sure, Phil, you’re right. You could fry a cat’s ass just right and it would taste splendid.

    One of the wonderful benefits of living in a country of extreme excesses is that we aren’t forced to eat brains, stomachs, eyeballs, etc.

    Save that crap for Bear Grylls.

  7. JP
    May 15, 2008 3:01 pm

    Don’t knock it till you have tried it PG. My wife is from Italy and whenever we visit (in the winter anyway) I always ask my mother in law or a great aunt to make tripa con polenta. I go for the white version with cooked in with carrots parsley and reggiano , but am also happy to eat the southern red version as well My grandparents were from Muse and I have had Ital club tripe many times and I would have to respectfully say I would take it any day over fake factory made pre-fab buns from some chain restaurant

  8. JustOneL
    May 15, 2008 3:24 pm

    Listen, I don’t care if tripe is cooked properly – it’s still gross. PG, your’re totally right in saying it would “choke a bitch”. I grew up in a largely Italian household and my Nonna knew how to cook – but I never once thought, “Mmm…I could go for some tripe!” I go to the Muse Club for the fish sandwiches!

    Of all the things to feature in the Food section today…why didn’t they just do a feature on “Foul Things Contestants Have Eaten On Survivor”

  9. Rorge
    May 15, 2008 3:32 pm

    If I ever found myself a member of a “ladies auxillary” I’d make them eat tripe, too.

  10. Kelli
    May 15, 2008 3:35 pm

    Actually, many of you have probably had tripe and liked it – it is a common source of “beef” in canned beef soups, etc.

    So, Phil, do not worry – with capitalism running rampant, big business will always find a way to use the “offal”. Even if it isn’t the best way.

  11. Rachel
    May 15, 2008 3:35 pm

    My grandmother used to make tripe soup all the time for my father. There are certain smells that I just can’t stomach, and tripe is one of them. On top of that, it looks foul too (imagine mylanta with white chunks in it).

    PittGirl, please post something else soon, so that I don’t have to look at that tripe picture every time I compulsively check your blog.

  12. Jennifer
    May 15, 2008 3:51 pm

    Lemme tell you, Octopus, with or without suction cups is yummy. And cow tongue, tastes like brisket, Delicious! But tripe and cow eyeballs? Ewwwww. I ate sweet breads last year and even though I wasn’t told I was eating sweet breads, they were nasty. Squishy. Food should NOT be squishy.

  13. JamieO
    May 15, 2008 3:57 pm

    I grew up in York, PA. Right on the edge of PA Dutch country. There is a dish there called “hog maw”. It’s pig stomach stuffed with sausage, hamburger, potatoes, and some variations add cabbage, carrots, etc. The pig stomach is marinated in brine to get out all the nasty stuff. It’s actually pretty good. My wife was eating it once, unawares it was hog maw, and commented how good it was. I broke it to her and she just about died.

    I am telling you, the Amish eat some wild stuff. You go to a market in York or Lancaster and go past the meat counter, it resembles a cow autopsy. Some of that stuff I draw the line at, such as scrapple.

  14. retiredguy
    May 15, 2008 7:17 pm

    Want disgusting. Two words. Head cheese.

  15. Larry
    May 15, 2008 8:56 pm

    Just to add a shout out to Jennifer’s comment, beef tongue is really, really good!

    slice it really thin, and you’d never know that you were eating tongue — it has the taste and consistency of good roast beef! yum!


    p.s., octopus is good, too, but only sushi-grade and cut well (or cooked properly, so that it’s not rubbery!)

  16. Sooska
    May 15, 2008 10:04 pm

    Add lutefiske and haggis to the list.
    For those who don’t know, lutefiske is a Swedish “delicacy” of cod soaked in lye so it is a jellied, foul, rancid glop. It has been described as edible only when you have been blindfolded and are so drunk you can’t tell the difference between caviar spritzed w/lemon juice placed on a piece of lettuce served on a cracker, and ketchup on a KitKat bar. When you can’ t tell the difference anymore you can eat the lutefiske.
    Haggis is a Scottish delicacy of sheep’s heart, liver and lungs onions, oatmeal, spice and salt stuffed into a stomach and boiled for 3 hours or so. Serve with mashed boiled potatoes and turnips and..you guessed it…whiskey.

  17. Burgher in Maine
    May 16, 2008 7:34 am

    Fried tripe is pretty good. The worst thing I ever ate was ox tongue in china town in SF. It was dark brown, huge, chewy (as you would expect a tongue to be) and you could see and feel the taste buds. It was awful. The lady demanded a tip when I left.

  18. Brian
    May 16, 2008 8:13 am

    I just threw up a little bit … on my desk.

  19. NoSide15212
    May 16, 2008 8:25 am

    Spot on, Mitch C. –these aren’t delicacies; they’re acts of desperation. Starvation, like war, does strange things to men.

    Mmmmm….nothing like the slow-cooked, savory goodness of chewy, filmy, intestinal tissue, marinated in its own bile and gastric mucosa. May I have mine with a side of ground up hooves and eyelashes. And let’s not forget the oft overlooked scrotum. Ghastly.

    #13. “cow autopsy.” Hilarious.

  20. Bex
    May 16, 2008 8:30 am

    The worst I’ve ever had? Deep fried cow utter. I figured, hey I’m in Germany, I’ll try the local favorites! Big mistake…

  21. mis
    May 16, 2008 9:03 am

    PG – I think you just hit on the new Pittsburgh Diet.
    Everytime I get a craving to have a snack I think I will jut take a look at that picture.
    WTAE’s “Drop a Dress Size” story ain’t got nuthin’ on you!

  22. EFW_West
    May 16, 2008 10:39 am

    Andrew Zimmern not pleased.

  23. spoon
    May 16, 2008 10:46 am

    If you want to see this uncooked they sell it at Wholey’s in the meat section. I taunt Lushie with it all the time.

    btw, if you’re interested in an online food show that would make Food Network blush and anthony bourdain shout “HELL YEAH!” then click on Phil’s name for his website.

    or if you dont wanna scroll up… http://zeroface.wordpress.com/
    You want facts, check out EP12 and 14 with Shaun who is an agriculture/biology major studying at Cal Poly Pomona University. That guy will open your eyes.

  24. Lawrence
    May 16, 2008 12:11 pm

    Probably still better than a McDonald’s but not going to be on my plate tonight ……

  25. Pensrule
    May 26, 2008 9:14 pm

    Ahh memories of grosness.
    It’s a “peasant”dish my father would ask my mother to prepare for he and his 5 or so other old country buddies at the long back yard table. Would take all day too cook down then simmer in her home made sauce. The guys would eat for hours dipping in crusty bread and drinking “deigo red”(home made red wine). My mom although worked hard at it, enjoyed the gratitude of all the UMMMS and I made a few bucks serving & pouring the vino. Good memrories…too bad my kids AINT EVER GONNA EAT THAT SHIT! ewww