Tripe was it something you found easy to swallow?

Back in the day, tripe was advertised as ‘Easy on Digestion, Easy on the Purse!’ but was it something you found easy to swallow?

tripe | Spring Chicken

According to the tongue-in-cheek Tripe Marketing Board, sales of tripe have been on the decline since 1958:

Consumption of tripe has fallen every year since 1958 and, according to results from recent focus groups we have organised, most people would rather eat a plastic bag than eat tripe.

When memories of tripe were jogged among the Spring Chicken Community, comments did indeed suggest that eating a plastic bag, or starving, would be the preferred choice of many…

… I cannot stand tripe, in any way shape or form. The smell of it makes me physically sick. Whenever my mother cooked it (thankfully not that often) I had to go to a friend’s house ’til it had been eaten, the dishes washed, and the smell gone.

… The most revolting food ever – not even my dogs will eat it!

But, for every dozen or so who’d rather starve, there are still one or two who share fond memories of tucking into a hearty plate of tripe…

… Mum used to cook it in milk with onions, and we had it with bread and butter or mash potato. If we ate it cold, it was with vinegar, pepper, and bread and butter – loved it.

… I loved my mum’s hot tripe and onions with mashed potatoes. Warmed the cockles of your heart on a winter’s day.

And then there are those who remember enjoying it, right up to the moment they discovered what it was…

… It was cheap, nourishing and easy to digest, ideal for invalids. I was given it as a child and ate it without complaint – until I found out what it was. Yuk!

… My nana used to take me to the UCP (United Cattle Products) for thick seam or honeycomb tripe and we’d take it home and have it raw with loads of salt and vinegar. It was delicious and full of nutrients, but when I found out what it was and where it came from, I was horrified and never ate it again!

Tripe … and Other Assorted Entrails

You can still buy it today, and celebrity chefs such as Gordon Ramsay have attempted to revive an interest in nose-to-tail eating, but it’s fair to say you’re more likely to find tripe on the menu in Spain or France than you are in the UK. However, in times of rationing and food shortages after WWII, tripe was a regular feature on dinner tables across Britain. It was a cheap and readily available source of animal protein, and, as many Spring Chicken Facebook followers have pointed out, it may not have been your favourite dish, but you ate it anyway because nothing else was on offer:

The texture was horrible, but you ate what was put in front of you or you went hungry in our house.

Other delights that were commonplace back in the day but rarely heard of now, let alone eaten, include hodge, pig’s stomach; elder, cow’s udder; chitterlings, pig or cow intestines; pig’s head brawn; sweetbreads, calf or lamb thymus gland and pancreas; cow heels, and pig’s trotters and tails. Much like tripe, many in the Spring Chicken Community remember eating these foods, but memories are mixed in terms of whether they were enjoyed…

… Tripe and onions, sheep’s head, tongue and oxtail. All cooked in our house when I was young, but fortunately, me and my sisters weren’t forced to eat any of it. Left it to the adults.

… My grandmother always loved chitterlings, and she also ate the parson’s nose on chicken, turkey or goose!

… I never had to eat tripe, but I remember sucking on pig’s trotters and pig’s tails – and loving them.

As soon as better cuts of meat became more affordable, tripe and other offal fell out of favour, but if you remember the days of “waste not want not”, what forgotten foods would you like to see back on the dinner table?

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