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Trippa is tripe, the edible lining of the cow's stomach. Photo: Florence, Italy

You can’t say you’ve been to Florence if you don't stop by one of its famous "chioschi" or street food stands where you can buy and taste Florence's street food. Commonly referred to as trippai or lampredottai (literally, the makers of trippa and lampredotto), where you can taste the best of the city's street culinary tradition, a sandwich filled with trippa or lampredotto.

What is "Tripe"?

Simply put, they are organ meat or offal. Trippa is tripe, the edible lining of the cow's stomach. While tripe is eaten elsewhere, lampredotto is a local specialty for Florence. It is the fourth and final stomach of a cow, generally slow-cooked with tomato, onion, parsley, and celery until it has the texture of tender roast beef. Both are traditionally served on a crunchy bun, often first soaked in the broth and with spicy or green sauce, according to Visit Florence.

Both have been considered peasant food for centuries, and as such, go back to Florence's roots and to the poor working classes. Usually, you don't sit down at a classic restaurant to eat trippa or lampredotto but in Florence, they can also be found at trattorie and osterie and fiaschetterie. In keeping with tradition, the best places to head to for the best trippa or lampredotto are at these food stands or trippai which are located in many of the squares and corners of the city.

How to Cook Tripe?

For tripe to be edible, it must be “dressed.” This involves a thorough and conscientious cleaning of the piece. A butcher briefly boils the animal stomach before peeling off the lining, the part used in tripe dishes. Most butchers also remove extra bits of fat and bleach the tripe to make it appear more appetizing, as said by Spude Eats.

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Photo: WikiHow

Fresh tripe needs to be cooked for a long time to become tender. Since butchers typically parboil tripe when they clean it, you may need to only rinse it and blanch it to remove any lingering bleach if your recipe calls for extended cooking time. But for use in quicker-cooking recipes, you need to cook tripe first by simmering it in salted water for an hour or two.

Fresh, undressed tripe looks a bit unappealingly brownish/greenish. If you purchase it this way, you need to rinse it repeatedly until the water runs clear and it no longer feels gritty. Then braise or simmer it for at least two and up to 10 hours; it's almost impossible to overcook tripe.

What Does Tripe Taste Like?

Despite the psychological barrier that some people experience in regards to eating an animal's stomach lining, well-dressed tripe has a mild flavor and combines nicely with many other ingredients, especially aromatic elements such as onion, garlic, and some herbs. Similar to tofu, tripe absorbs the flavors of the dish.

You’ll find trippai all over Florence and the quality, like all things in Italy, is best judged based on the length of the queues. If you’re in a rush though, look for Trippiao del Porcellino in the southwest corner of Piazza del Mercato Nuovo, or for Mario Albergucci at Piazzale di Porta Romana.

Florence tripe is mostly served from small carts called a trippai and is treated more or less like any other fast food – like eating a hotdog in New York or grabbing a plate of pad thai in Bangkok. While the city used to have dozens of trippai, sadly less than ten remain today, but those few still do make a roaring trade.

People drop by while running their chores or on their lunch break and order from a short, mostly unchanging menu. Orders are consumed at the cart which will usually have a ledge to rest your elbows on and are washed down with a glass of wine or a bottle of beer.

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