By | Bitter, Cookbooks | No Comments

The weekend after Easter I was in Chicago. I must have pleased the local weather gods as I had fabulous weather. Sunny, clear and warm, after Toronto, at 15C. It was a little windy the first day, just Chicago living up to its reputation, but it was wonderful to see lots of green, blossom and flowers. The locals are very friendly and I met lots of interesting people. My first event for Bitter was at the Arts Club of Chicago, a private club in Chicago, which will be celebrating its 100th anniversary next year. It seems to be a well kept secret because many people I talked to in the city didn’t know about it. If you live in Chicago check it out. I was interviewed by the charming and well read Victoria Lautman. As an author you always know if someone has read your book, or just glanced at the press release. Victoria had not only read Bitter, but delved into all my books. We had a great conversation with interesting questions afterwards. The club chef even made some dishes from book for the luncheon that preceded the interview.

My second event was on Saturday with Chicago Foodways and the Chicago Culinary Historians. These are two very active groups that hold events at Kendall College. If you are interested in food you should be a member.

I haven’t illustrated this post with a photo of the city of Chicago, you can see a couple here. Instead I wanted to show you one of the best things I ate – the menudo at Carnitas Uruapan, a tiny hole in the wall in the Pilsen area of Chicago. I found it thanks to Mark, and you should take a look at his interesting blog. The food was great, it was crowded and cramped. Any spare space in the restaurant was filled with people lining up for takeout, but they managed to fit in a kid with a guitar who sang Mexican songs. It’s not a fine dining experience, but it was fun, delicious, friendly and cheap.  So this bowl of menudo is my homage to Chicago.

Tripe Truck

By | Offal, Paris, tripe | 2 Comments
I was excited when I learnt that the Tripe Truck would be in my Paris neighbourhood in November. It was scheduled to be at Montparnasse twice in the same week: Monday and Wednesday. Monday arrived and I jumped on the 58 bus and headed to the station. I walked around and around the square in front of the station – no tripe truck.
Major disappointment. However, perhaps I’d made a mistake. Why would they come twice to my part of town? After all they didn’t know I lived there.  On Wednesday I set off again and again no tripe truck. I was not only disappointed, I was annoyed. I fired off a couple of angry Tweets implying that the French were hopeless at organizing anything. On Thursday I left for Zurich, more about that soon, and forgot all about the Tripe Truck. The following Wednesday by chance I  happened to be at Montparnasse and low and behold there was the shiny blue Tripe Truck.  I’d made a mistake with the dates. If I’d bothered to check my calendar where I had marked the passage of the Tripe Truck before I left for Paris I’d have realised my mistake the week before. So I now officially withdraw all my negative comments about the French, but just those concerning the Tripe Truck.
The truck was, in reality, a fancy Airstream caravan, or as I learnt a “travel trailer”. The advertised tripe burgers were indeed gratuit (free), but they didn’t contain any tripe. I’d imagined  pieces of cow’s stomach breaded and fried in a bun. Instead, the mini burger buns were filled with slices tongue, liver or cheek, garnished with beetroot, radish and mayonnaise. Not really a burger, but tasty nonetheless.
Every city should have a tripe truck to introduce people to offal. If it’s free people will try it. Imagine  fried testicles, braised tripe, breadcrumbed brains, sautéed heart, and liver, cheek and tongue in a bun with toppings. I bet we’d convert the populace to nose to tail eating.