Tripes, a taste of ancient Genoa

Ready, steady, tripes!

At the bottom of the steep, narrow Vico Casana, close to the intersection with Via Luccoli, stands the tripperia (i.e. tripe store) that takes the name of the alley. There, in the very heart of the historical centre of Genoa (only a stone’s throw from the port) customers enter a retro setting - marble counter, white tiling, hanging tripes, copper cauldrons... – that would look familiar to Giuseppe Verdi's contemporaries (during the rehearsals at the Carlo Felice opera house the Maestro was a regular himself).
Today, Gabriella and Franco run the place, always bustling with people and boasting a 200-year old history. Once the realm of the Cavagnaro family, it is one of the rare surviving tripe stores in Liguria. Once known as “ristori” (i.e. eating joints), tripperie are no longer allowed to serve food. Before sale, tripes are defrosted, cleaned, boiled, re-cleaned and cooled in fresh water tanks.

Those who recoil at the mere thought of tripes, often erroneously connect them with intestines. Genoa, the “Superba” (i.e. superb) meticolously provides names for each cut – and loves its tripes mixed: a çentupelli is the omasum (low yield), o grõppõ is the abomasum (known in Tuscany as lampredotto), e trippe is the rumen, a cûffia is the reticulum, o redoggiõn is a section of the rumen, a castagnetta is the vagina, o rissetto refers to the tubes, a gõa is the oesophagus. The so-called white tripes are their best stewed, cooked with potatoes and kidney beans or in soups such as sbira, accompanied by croutons; red tripes provide excellent broth (an ancient remedy for hangovers) and salads. Wine matching usually features still red wines (e.g. Rossese). Each cut is to be cooked separately. Nourishing yet not excessively fat, recipes abound – rice and tripes, grilled tripes, fried çentupelli – and witness ingenious frugality and artistry in leftover recycling.

This is the fascinating world of Genoese tastes and crafts that LiguriabyLuisa discloses to foreign markets and buyers.

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