Trippa alla Stefanina

There’s no way around it. Today’s recipe is tripe, another within the series of posts which many will find less than appealing, to put it mildly. And, once again, the overwhelming majority of my generation of the Bartolini Clan would agree.  I, myself, being the only exception. Yet, tripe is an ingredient found in most of the World’s cuisines and, when cooked properly, is really quite tasty. Still, many of you may be looking for the nearest exit and, if that’s the case, you may depart HERE. All right then …

Nonna

Trippa wasn’t something Mom ever prepared while I was growing up but it was a dish that the “People Upstairs” made and one that I absolutely loved. Even then, since Zia’s boys would have nothing to do with it, I believe it was usually Grandpa who requested trippa be on that day’s menu. Being that Zia had her own family’s dinner to prepare, the trippa was often made by her Mother-in-law, a woman we kids all called “Nonna”  and whose name was Stefanina. She was a sweet woman and, for my siblings and I, the only Nonna we would ever really know. Since tomorrow would have been her birthday, and yesterday was mine, what better way to celebrate both than by sharing this special recipe? And it is special, as you’ll soon see.

Now, before going further, we need to revisit the 2 flat’s floor plans. You may recall that a stairwell separated my bedroom from our kitchen and the rest of our home. Directly above my room, was my cousins’ bedroom and the stairwell, also, separated their room from Zia’s kitchen and the rest of their home. So, forgetting the stairwell for a moment, my bed was about a 10 feet, in a straight line, from Mom’s stovetop and certainly less than 20 feet away from Zia’s. (Remind me again. Why did I move away from home?)

On those occasions when Grandpa prevailed upon Nonna to make a batch of trippa, the aroma of some as yet unknown delicacy, wafting down the stairs, was my siren call. A quick run up the stairs and a stealth bomber-like cruise through their kitchen was all I needed to check things out. Trippa was on the menu! I returned home via the “front stairs” and the wait began in my room. After what seemed like an eternity, I would hear Nonna’s voice calling, “Johnny! Johnny, are you there? I’ve got surprise for you.” My feet couldn’t get me up those stairs fast enough. When I burst into the kitchen, she’d be standing there, smiling broadly, holding a dinner plate. “Would you like some polenta?” Trying not to appear too eager, I’d reply with something like, “Sure.” And so the lesson began. “This is how you make polenta, Johnny.” Holding the plate in one hand, she would use the other hand’s fingers to dot the plate’s surface with dabs of butter. Then she would sprinkle the plate with freshly ground Pecorino Romano cheese. Next, using a large spoon, Nonna would slowly and carefully cover the plate with a nice layer of freshly made polenta. By now, I was about ready to drool. “Pazienza, Johnny,” and she would dot the surface of the polenta with more butter, to be followed with another sprinkle of grated cheese. And then came the trippa. Da Vinci didn’t take such care painting the Mona Lisa as did this dear woman when she layered the trippa upon that polenta. Then came another sprinkle of cheese. And every time, when she was done, with a twinkle in her eye, she would hand me the plate and say, “This is how you make polenta with trippa.”

Many years later, I cooked a polenta dinner for Mom and Zia. They were dumbstruck when I prepared their plates just as Nonna had showed me all those years before. Although both were fully aware that she often made me a plate when she cooked trippa for Grandpa, they’d no idea how that plate was created. And today, some 40+ years after my last serving of Nonna’s cooking, I cannot prepare a dish of polenta with trippa without hearing her say, “Pazienza,” and, minutes later, when my plate is ready to eat, I just have to echo, “This is how you make polenta with trippa.”

The preparation and serving of trippa that I am about to present is in the style of Le Marche (alla Marchigiani). (For tripe prepared with a distinctly Spanish flair, check out Tanya’s fantastic Chica Andaluza blog.) Today’s recipe is pretty much the same as Nonna prepared, save 2 exceptions. The first, and easiest to explain, is that I use instant polenta and I don’t know if the product was even available when Nonna was fixing me a plate. I first brought instant polenta to Mom and Zia some 20 years ago and they never served me “regular” polenta again. In fact, during his last visit to Italy in the early ’60s, Grandpa brought back a copper “polenta pot.” Each time Nonna prepared my plate, she served me polenta that she had spent 45 minutes stirring in that very pot. With the arrival of instant polenta, there was no real need for it any longer and I was given the pot several years ago. And, as “payment,” when I return home for a visit, I always bring a container or 2 of instant polenta.

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The second exception has to deal with a basic of Italian cooking. Most, if not all, of the Mediterranean countries begin many of their sauces, stews, and, well, just about anything, with a mixture of diced green pepper, celery, and onion. In Italy, this is called a soffrito and it is sautéed in olive oil at the very start of many dishes, just as is done in France (mirepoix) or in Spain, Latin America, and the Caribbean (sofrito) where the ingredients may vary a bit. Even New Orléans has its “holy trinity” of onion, carrot, and green bell pepper. My family often began dishes with a different kind of soffrito called “battuto.” To make a good “battut,” you need fine quality salt pork, onion, garlic, and parsley. Exact quantities are nearly impossible to gauge. This is something that must be learned by doing. I can say that the onion makes up the majority of a battuto and a small to medium size onion will do. You will, also, need 2 to 3 oz of salt pork sliced about 1/4 inch thick, 2 to 3 garlic cloves, and about 4 tbsp of fresh parsley. That should give you about 1 to 1 1/4 cups of battut, just perfect for today’s recipe. Begin by heating your knife’s blade over a stove’s burner. Once hot, use it to roughly chop the salt pork. Next, in no specific order, roughly chop the garlic, parsley, and onion. Combine the 3 ingredients on top of the salt pork and continue to chop them all. Do not create a paste but continue chopping until the ingredients are of uniform size and well-blended. Once chopped, sauté the battut in a sauce pan with olive oil over medium heat until it develops a little color. Do not rush it nor let it burn. Once done to your satisfaction, go ahead with your recipe. For today’s recipe, if you’d started with a battut, there would be no need for the pancetta, onion,  nor garlic, and the only parsley required would be added at the very end of cooking. You’ll be amazed at the flavor this simple mixture brings to a dish and your kitchen will be filled with an aroma that is just too good to be true.

My family used battuto as the base for sauces, braises, risotto, some soups, and even some vegetables. During the worst of the Great Depression, dinner often consisted of a large amount of polenta served on a large “polenta board” that had been placed in the middle of the dining table. At its very center, Grandma placed a little battuto and you had to eat your way through the polenta to get to it. Grandma, also, used battuto to dress pasta, her own version of aglio e olio. Mom and Zia stopped making battuto a number of years ago, about the time they stopped making sausage. They just couldn’t find good quality salt pork anymore. In its place, like in today’s recipe, they made a soffrito, of sorts. Not willing to give up, I keep searching for salt pork that will pass Zia’s inspection. To that end, I’ve recently learned of a Polish butcher on the West Side that reportedly has the best salt pork in town. We’ll see soon enough.

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Trippa alla Stefanina Recipe 

Ingredients

  • 5 lbs honeycomb tripe
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 lb pancetta, chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped, separated
  • 4 garlic cloves, diced
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 large can (28 oz) crushed tomatoes
  • 1 large can (28 oz) diced tomatoes
  • 1 small onion, whole & studded with 5 – 6 whole cloves
  • 1 tbsp marjoram
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • grated Pecorino Romano cheese for serving

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Directions

  1. Rinse trippa under cold water and trim off unusable parts. Place in a large pot, cover with water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 1 hour.
  2. Remove trippa from water and, when cool enough to handle, cut into strips 1 to 2 inches in length and 1/4 to 1/3 inch wide.
  3. While the trippa cools, heat olive oil in medium-sized sauce pan over med-high heat. Add pancetta and sauté until cooked but not crisp, about 8 minutes.
  4. Add the chopped onion, half of the parsley, and sauté until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes.  Season lightly with salt & pepper.
  5. Add garlic and sauté for another minute before adding the wine. Continue cooking until the wine is reduced and almost gone.
  6. Add the tomato paste and continue to sauté for 2 minutes before adding the tomatoes, marjoram, and trippa. Season with salt & pepper, stir well, and then add the clove-studded onion.
  7. Bring to a boil, reduce to a soft simmer, and continue cooking for at least 2 hours. Sauce should be dark and thick; the trippa should be quite tender.
  8. Remove studded onion and discard. Add most of the remaining parsley to the pot, taste to see if additional salt or pepper is needed, and stir well.
  9. Serve immediately, garnished with the remaining parsley and a sprinkling of cheese. Be sure to have grated cheese available at the table.

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Serving Suggestions

Traditionally, trippa is served in deep soup bowls with a healthy chunk of crusty bread on the side. As mentioned above, our family usually served it atop polenta. Pasta fanatic that I am, I’ve even used it to dress pastas like farfalle or rotini.

Notes

Making instant polenta is quite an easy process. So much so that there’s little need to devote an entire post to it, especially since my family’s recipe is so simple. Following package directions (most require, per serving, 4 tbsp of polenta for each cup of water), bring the water to boil, add a pinch of salt, and pour the polenta into the water, whisking all the while until fully blended. Over a medium to med-low heat, stirring frequently, cook the polenta for 5 minutes. At the end, add a tablespoon of butter and grated cheese to taste. (The latter would depend upon the dish(es) that will accompany the polenta.) Mix well and serve. It couldn’t be more simple. Of course, if you want to serve polenta like Nonna, dabs of butter and all, then go for it. You won’t be disappointed.

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About the Matter of Provenance

I’ve been asked, more than once, if these are really my family’s recipes. Certainly, not all of them are but, I can assure you, those that I say came from Mom, Zia, Nonna, etc., are, in fact, theirs. As further proof, below is an image of the Zia’s “polanta” recipe that can be found in the recipe book that she gave me.

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Where’s Flat Ruthie Now?

Any guesses?  Stay tuned …

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103 thoughts on “Trippa alla Stefanina

  1. I love polenta although there has been an ongoing argument here (no thanks to an Alton Brown show) about polenta vs. grits. Same or different. I say different, DH says same. Great recipe and really cool pot there.

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    • I enjoy both and say different but, to find out, I’d have to have make both, plain, and try them. Seems like a waste of good polenta and grits to me. It’s an unsolvable foodie mystery and I’ll continue to enjoy them both! 🙂

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  2. Oh John, wha a fantastic post. I loved everything about it. From the reminder of where your room was and the smells wafting towards you to the recipe and the “polanta” and the photo of Nonna. All so beautiful. Your posts always bring back so many memories for me, although food wise I had never eaten tripe before coming to Spain. You do know though that I will be giving this fantastic recipe a go and as I cook it I will remember sitting in my own bedroom as a child which was the attic (converted naturally) and the smells of Mamma´s Italian cooking from the ground floor wafting up to the top of the house (and mingling with Nanna´s English pies and cakes baking) where I was pretending to do my homework and figuring out which meal would be ready first for me to try!

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    • I just knew, Tanya, that this would hit a chord with you. When those kitchens were humming, the whole house smelled fantastic! You, being in the attic, must’ve been in heaven! Nonna was such a special woman and it was a pleasure being able to introduce her to everyone. I spoke with Zia Sunday and told her your story about the ruined pasta on the sofa. We both had a good laugh and then reminisced about all of the pasta left drying all over our house way back when. The similarities between our homes, and Linda’s too, are just remarkable! I certainly didn’t expect to find this when I started the blog. Nice, isn’t it? 🙂

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  3. How beautiful Nonna is in this photo. Happy Belated Birthday and many happy returns. I can’t believe you use instant polenta (I have never used it or bought prepared polenta either) — I usually stir up fresh polenta, but you can also cook it in the microwave. Not as good, though. I loved the instructions for preparing the plate with the butter and cheese — must try this. And FYI, the “holy trinity” is onions, celery and green bell pepper (no carrots).

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    • Thanks, Sharyn, for such a nice comment, not to mention the heads-up re: my error. I just cannot proof-read to save my blog! This post was written weeks ago and saved for Nonna’s birthday. I’ve read and re-read it countless times without ever catching that error. I’ve never purchased the prepared polenta either and this instant is ready in what, 6 or 7 minutes? It really makes polenta a very accessible side dish for any meal. Again, thanks for your “contributions” today. 🙂

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  4. So many birthdays this week! How fun! I hope you had a fantastic day John and that you have one of your best years yet. 🙂 I don’t think I’ve ever had tripe, so you didn’t have me running for the hills. I’m going to have to try it one of these days. And if I do, I think I would want it served over polenta they way you’ve described – with cheese and butter! Yum!

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    • It’s a great dish, Kristy, but most cannot get past the idea of eating it … and the texture can be off-putting. Yes, there is that. 🙂

      Considering all of the dishes you guys have prepared, I think this would be a cake walk for you all. And if you have any doubts, just add more butter and cheese. Everything is better with butter and cheese. 🙂

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  5. Thank you for the trippa recipe, it really looks like the real McCoy for sure, soon I will try it…
    If I’m not making trippa and don’t have the time nor the ingredients I find that the menudo found at local Hispanic restaurants has to suffice, sadly no “Italian” restaurants here in the San Francisco East Bay serve it anymore…
    Since infancy all the young in my family have eaten trippa, considering it a treat, they harbor no prejudice nor fear of other variety meats because of being exposed to it so young, now in their adulthood they are quite adventurous eaters.
    If I may provide a hint or two: In order to reduce shrinkage my mother and grandmothers would par-cook the tripe in one piece, also do try cooking the polenta in a pressure cooker (ten minutes at a very low flame), the results are miraculous… Much of my family in Milano, Piemonte and Sicily use this method. Also the tripe can be par-cooked in a pressure cooker.

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    • Welcome! Thank you for taking the time to comment and offer suggestions. Like you, I have bought menudo when I want trippa but do not have the time to make it. I agree, too, about introducing children to “strange” foods when very young. My parents gave me this gift and I’m so thankful they did this for me. Your tips about cooking the trippa are well-taken. I do not own a pressure cooker but have wondered if it would be useful when cooking trippa. You’ve given me the urge to buy one now. Again, thank you for your comments. Please come back “for a visit” whenever you can. 🙂

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  6. Where or where do I begin….How about first with the warmest Birthday wishes!!! You certainly kept that a secret!!! I hope you enjoyed a very happy day!! I’m heading home tonight to make…NO, not tripe, but polenta especially to plate it exactly as you’ve written!! I’m so excited to learn that family tip!! Your Nonna’s smiling face just feels so familiar and comforting to me!! I don’t know why, but it just does. Beautiful, detailed, informative post John.

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    • Thank you, Linda. I had a great 2 days celebrating and today will be a day of rest. There’s nothing low-cal about Nonna’s method but, I must say, nothing comes close to the flavor of that dish, either. Like I just told Tanya, I knew you’d like this post. Every Italian family has a Nonna-type and we’re all so much richer because of them. I’m glad for the chance for you to get to know “our Nonna” a little bit. 🙂

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  7. This was a perfect piece of story telling, family lore (read law) and the love of food. I am of course especially envious of the copper pot but you knew that! I think I shall begin with the polenta, i have never eaten it and yes i will add the butter. Nonna and I agree on that! Then the soffrito though I would rather the batutto (let me know about that butcher he may do mail order!) that sounds like the perfect base for a meal. I think I need to perfect these three first, before proceeding. Lovely, lovely, lovely! c

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    • Thank you, Celi. Coming from you, a master story teller, that’s high praise and I appreciate it. Yeah, that pot is really something special and I prize it like no other. Once you can master making a good batutto, your Italian dishes will be taken to another level, not to mention the aromas emanating from your kitchen. My Grandpa would insist that the Women start with a batutto for practically every dish cooked. I will let you know about that butcher — he comes highly recommended by the owner of my Italian market. It takes a village to make a good tomato sauce! 🙂

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  8. John, I so enjoyed being in your home today… and especially enjoyed visiting the flat where you grew up again:) For certain I was racing right along beside you as you ran up the stairs, following that lovely fragrant cooking scent. Your Nonna looks so sweet and kind, I love how she tempted you and made a production of presenting your plate for you… she surely loved you so much! I’m sure you gave her such joy as well. I think we should all be so lucky to live in flats like these, together as families.. it would be such a lovely way to live, wouldn’t it? xo Smidge
    ps I’ve never even tasted tripe! Also, never have I heated a knife then sliced something. Is this only for the salted pork or would you do this with other meats??
    pps I love that polenta pot!!

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    • Thank you, Smidge. That stairwell sure did see some traffic, whether it was just normal day-to-day routine, us kids, at play, running up-and-down them, or me answering Nonna’s clarion call telling me that some delicacy awaited. Nonna treated each of us 6 kids like we were the only child in the World. Yes, she was that special. I only remember the Women using the hot knife with salt pork but I’ll have to ask Zia for verification. And, yes, that polenta pot is my prized possession. Every time I see it, I’m transported back in time to Nonna’s side. That pot is priceless!

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  9. That is far and away the tastiest looking pot of tripe that I have ever seen! Chinese tripe is tasty (star anise) but it’s usually left in big spongy flaps, which I don’t much like the look of. And here in Turkey tripe soup is, for so me reason, a great favorite after a night of drinking, spiked heavily with garlicky vinegar, but again, sort of milky and menacing looking. And that pot – this is a post full of gems.

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    • I’ve enjoyed tripe in Mexican restaurants and in Vietnamese soups. I agree, though, that it wouldn’t be very appetizing if it was left in large, spongy pieces. To my eye, chopped is so much more visually appealing. I wish I had known that tripe was available when I visited Istanbul for I surely would have tried it. I’m sure I would have enjoyed it and probably had enough to drink on a couple of those nights to fit right in with the locals. 🙂

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  10. Love the video! Sorry, I had the urge to depart … but glad I came back to finish the story. LOVE the pot, love the story (I’m a sucker for good family food stories), love that you made the effort to create it again. Warmed heart here 🙂

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    • Glad you enjoyed the video, Judy, as well as this post. Thanks for your kind comments. My Zia will have an equally warmed heart when she reads that, as well as the comments of every one else. We are both amazed at how well-received these posts & recipes are.

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    • Thanks, Greg! I saw that it was one very long post and wanted to reward people who stuck with it till the very end. In the picture, Flat Ruthie is about to scuba dive, I will give you that, but it isn’t an owl. And while I don’t expect anyone to rush out and buy some tripe as a result of this recipe, I did document it and, well, one can hope that someday, some future Bartolini will give it a shot.

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  11. Happy Belated Birthday, John. I do wish you a great year and many more! Hope you did something special!
    Your recipe of Trippa is a walk down memory lane for me as my dear Mom made the Hungarian version called Pacalpörkölt (made with beef tripe). These are recipes from the days that they used the entire animal from head to toe, nothing wasted. The Hungarian version is also based in a tomato sauce, but I seem to recall quite a bit of paprika which gave it a rich, almost smoky flavour (although I don’t recall smoked paprika in our household as a child, so it must have been particular to Hungarian paprika which my mother brought back every time we visited). My brother and Dad hated the texture, whereas Mom and I loved it (I think Mom made something else for them!). I can’t recall what Mom served it with — it’s been that long ago that I’ve had it, probably just boiled potatoes (Hungarians are famous for that). I have seen it on a few French menus, always a bit hesitant to order for fear of ruining my memory. I doubt JT would like the texture so for the time being I shall have to enjoy this lovely dish of your’s vicariously! Thanks for the ‘tripe’ down memory lane (oh god, I am sorry about that!)

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    • Thank you, Eva, for the birthday wishes and wonderful comment. You’ve pretty much stated why I started this blog. Much like you, I’m the only one left, save Zia, that likes tripe. Had I not documented the recipe, it surely would have been “lost” one day. Who knows when or who will make this dish but, one day, someone will. As for your family’s recipe, if you ever find it and want someone to fix it, look no further than here. I’d love to give it a try.

      “‘Tripe’ down memory lane”? Good one, Eva. Good one! 🙂

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    • I had a good laugh last week, when you mentioned tripe and Tanya offered a recipe. Now, I’m used to having a very similar recipe posted on another blog when I’m about to post mine and have pulled a few to prevent it. After all, most of my recipes are pretty common fare and some duplication is expected. But tripe? I’ve had this post written for weeks, waiting for our birthdays to post it. What are the odds that within a week, there would be 2 more tripe-related posts? like I said, it gave me a good laugh! Thanks for your part in it. 🙂

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  12. First of all, happy belated birthday John!
    I loved this post, very nice memories…
    I like tripa, at Panama we call it mondongo, here in Spain is callos; the recipe is different but is always good.
    Thanks for sharing it with us 🙂

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    • Thank you, Giovanna. I sometimes order menudo in Mexican restaurants when I want some trip but haven’t the time to make it. I bet I’d love your mondongo or the Spanish callos. I really do love it.

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  13. That’s a great post! I can’t say I’ve ever had tripe that has been very good, but your recipe certainly sounds appetising. I’ll eat most animal parts – trotters, brains, ears, testicles and heads included. Hopefully Bartolini style will change my mind – even if the tripe texture does little for me, I know your sauce will be good 😉

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    • Thank you for dropping by. If you’ve eaten all of the rest of the animal, tripe is nothing to worry about. Yes, the texture can be off-putting but that’s why it is cut into little strips. I’m not a fan at all of large pieces. And yes, this clove-seasoned sauce is really good, too

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  14. What a beautiful read John, thank you! Happy birthday to you – have a love, light and happy filled year ahead. I raise a toast in your honour! I love the pic of your Nonna! Such a happy smile.
    Hmm, now about that tripe – no thank you. Funny enough I will be posting about tripe on Friday! My dad loves it – shame he only really gets to enjoy it once a year on his birthday!
    As for flat Ruthie, well, it looks like she is on top of a ginger kitties head of sorts and could that be the top of a pen on the left hand side of the pic?
    🙂 Mandy

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    • Thank you, Mandy for the well wishes. I cannot believe that you, too, will be posting something about tripe. You will make the 4th, mine included, in about 10 days. Do you believe it? I mean, if this were a pasta or chicken dish, I could see the repetition, but, tripe? Too funny. Still, I look forward to seeing how you prepare it. I’m more than willing to try any preparation I can. I really do like it.

      As for Flat Ruthie, you’re not correct but you are close. 🙂

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    • Thanks, Stefanie, and I’m sure that your namesake, Stefanina, would be thrilled to know you enjoyed this story. It really is all about her rather than the trippa. I wanted you all to see what a kind, giving person she was. Judging by the comments, I think I’ve succeeded. 🙂

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  15. What an interesting and well written post. Firstly, Happy Birthday! I love the Italians love of food. So much care taken in preparing the family food. And how everyone always dined together – all generations. I have never actually tried tripe. I’ve never actually liked the look of it. I don’t even see it in butcher shops. However, I think if I had been introduced to it at a young age and had it presented to me on a plate of wonderful buttery, cheesy polenta, I would have loved it.

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    • Thank you so much. I think the key, as you stated, was my being introduced to tripe, and a host of other foods, at a young age. Still, and my siblings are proof, that doesn’t mean I’d grow up liking it. But I did and today I’m open to at least tasting most foods, from kangaroo with strawberry sauce outside of Sydney to grilled organ meats in a Greek taverna on Crete. My parents gave me a truly wonderful gift.

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  16. Where do I begin? First of all, it looks delicious and I wouldn’t be frightened away by the tripe at all! Your grandmother’s name, Stafanina, is just absolutely beautiful. The copper pot, your lovely memories…what a wonderful read today, thank you. 🙂

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    • You are very welcome. Nonna’s name suited her to a “T”. She was a beautiful woman, perfectly suited for the role of Italian Grandmother. Telling these family stories keeps her and others alive for me and my family, not to mention introducing you all to some truly special people in my life. The fact that you would enjoy, or at least try, a bowl of trippa is icing on the cake. It’s a win-win! 🙂

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    • I tried both kinds of Trippe scihwnades at the little window down Casa de Dante. The lampredotto was by far the best Trippe and probably one of the greatest food experiences of my life.

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  17. What a beautiful woman and story. I love the part about “and that’s how you make…” And that you still say it when you make it. These echos from the past are not lost when you repeat them. Thank you. And while I must say I’ve never had tripe except in menudo, I’d gladly tuck into some! The pot is a thing of beauty, how wonderful to have something tangible to link back to the past.

    Happy belated.

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    • Thank you so much, David. I’ve enjoyed menudo, too, but usually when I haven’t any trippa around. 🙂 Nonna was a very special woman whom we all loved dearly. I cannot look upon that copper pot without thinking of her and the many plates of polenta she fixed for me, always in the same way and with the same instructions. Whenever I think of it, I smile, just like I am now. Thanks again.

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  18. I’m not sure that I’m ready to graduate to cooking with Tripe yet. How about you prepare it and I’ll show up with many bottles of wine? and all those ingredients do sound good though.

    cheers my friend!

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    • I would gladly make a batch for ya — with a spare platter of pasta on the side, “just in case.” I don’t think we’d need it, though. We’ll just open an extra bottle of wine before dinner and you’ll be fine. If not, we’ll open another bottle … and, if need be another .. and so on until you’re begging for trippa. It’s a win-win, even if you don’t yet see it that way.

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  19. I confess, I read the first paragraph, saw the word “tripe” then depart “here” and exited to watch that hilarious and brilliant “Two Dogs Dining video with…and I can’t believe the names….Nono and Sia, nor can I believe that the dog on the right wasn’t stabbed during the making of the film! But of course I came back to your post, pulled in by the smile of the beautiful Nonna. The picture of your trippa looks really enticing, almost enough to make me try it! The story is so charming, and I love the layering of the polenta, what a great idea, and learning about battuto. And what a gorgeous copper pot that is, and I know you must treasure it. A really, really fantastic post…a terrific read from beginning to end and some great ideas, tripe or not. Happy Belated Birthday to you, John, and many happy returns! Hope you are still celebrating. And thank you for sharing such wonderful memories, information, recipes, films and your family with us! ~Betsy

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    • I had been searching for a suitable link for “here” for weeks. In the 11th hour, a friend sent me that link last weekend and I immediately placed it in the post. Very cleverly done. I know that the very concept of trippa puts it outside the diets of most people. For me, because there are so many warm memories associated with it, trippa remains among my favorite comfort foods. Thank you, Betsy, for the birthday well-wishes and the compliments. 🙂

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  20. Happy Birthday John- a bit late but hope the birthday is the start for a very happy year ahead, filled with lots of delicious food, lovingly prepared! And what a touching tribute to Nonna on her birthday. You can see her exuberant spirit light up the post.

    Your descriptions of your room and the stairwell and the stove and the aromas made your post feel alive and fragrant. The making of the plate for you, how it must have been hard to wait to take the first bite.
    My NJ neighbors the Scaranos would cook tripe with the help of their grandmother but I am ashamed to say I don’t think I even tried it. It is important to document the food preparation for future generations, though. I am a firm believer in that practice.

    And that Flat Ruthie at the end was a surprise! Hope her camera is waterproof. Lake Michigan? Or a painting of water. The orange reminiscent of Van Gogh’s fields of wheat? Eagerly awaiting the next clue.

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    • Thank you, Ruth (I had to stop myself from typing “Ruthie”!). Nonna was a special lady, that’s for sure and writing this post was a real pleasure. The first time I made trippa and, most importantly, got it “right,” is when I knew I had to start learning these recipes. It was about a dozen years ago and Mom helped me initially, before Zia took over. Now, the tables have turned, somewhat, and I show Zia new recipes and often cook for her. One of the younger generation is trying some of these recipes and I hope he continues to learn and cook them.

      Yes, Flat Ruthie was out partying with us for my birthday and I’ll be writing a post about it very soon. Stay tuned …

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  21. I just went back and clicked the HERE out of curiosity and was rewarded with the Two Dogs Dining video which was hilarious. I think Murphy would have enjoyed seeing it too.

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  22. Happy belated birthday to you, John, and what a happy and wonderful memory of your Nonna. It seems clear that she was a wonderful woman! Wouldn’t she find it amazing that you have now shared this story and the memories of her care in the kitchen with people around the world! I do love Polenta AND grits, and I don’t think of them as the same at all! And I’m going to take Nonna’s advice next time and a lot more butter than my typically skimpy amount! Not too good with the Tripe, but I was interested in how different it appears from Menudo. Flat Ruthie is a kick! Debra

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    • Thank you, Debra. Nonna was indeed wonderful and I’ve many warm memories of her. A plate of polenta fixed her way is a real treat and one I love to prepare on these cold, wintery days. Yes, both she and my Mom would be thrilled to see how well-received their recipes and memories are. I can say that because Zia is surprised to see the response these posts are getting. She is going to love reading this one, guaranteed! And yes, Flat Ruthie is quite the house guest. And she’s so quiet, too! You never hear a peep out of her. 🙂

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  23. The loving way you honour your mother, aunt and grandmother in your writing is heartwarming. The only thing better than one’s own family stories and recipes is being able to share in someone else’s. Thank you! I may never make tripe (although now you’ve got me thinking about it), but I am intrigued by the battuto. It sounds tasty and versatile. I used to go regularly to an Italian butcher shop, but they moved and I lost track of them. I just may look them up to see if I can find some authentic salt pork. By the way, I have many of my mother’s old kitchen pans and utensils, but I’ve now been struck with a serious case of copper-polenta-pot envy. None of those to hand down in my family, sad to say!

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    • Thank you for your kind comments. I hope to not just save my family’s recipes but to give future family members a story or two to go along with the pictures they may see in a photo album. My generation has some photos but very little “back story” to go with them. I can do nothing about them but I can lend some back story to the people with whom I’m familiar. As for the copper pot, I’m the only member of my generation that eats polenta and that will use it as intended, just as I’m the only one to whom Nonna served polenta with tripe. They never knew what they were missing! 🙂

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  24. Marvelous post – even with the tripe! 🙂
    I always love your stories from your family…so different from the way I grew up. I always wondered how it would be to have cousins and grandparents close at hand, instead of a day’s drive away, and you give me a glimpse of just that…
    Happy belated B-day; sounds like you painted the town!

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    • Thank you for the birthday wishes, Marie. I actually thought of you when I put the “depart here” link into the post. I read your comments on Tanya’s callos post and I thought I’d give you, and just about everyone else, a way out. Although I don’t think anyone really appreciated it at the time, growing up together in that 2 flat really was something special. Speaking for myself, it was’t until I moved away did I realize what I left behind. I don’t do much town painting anymore but I did have a great birthday. I’ve got some really great friends and they treated me very well. 🙂

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      • Ha! Looks like I’m one of the only ones who DIDN’T click…but it sounds like I should, if just to entertain Angelface…the Niko Hates His Hat video is getting old.
        Honestly, if I was served this, I’d eat it. If only for the polenta, I’d eat it! 🙂

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        • I do hope you took the link and, yes, your Li’l Angel will love it, too. We are in agreement about polenta and if you ever indulge yourself and make it like Nonna showed me, well, it won’t really matter what you’re serving with it. 🙂

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  25. I hope you know John that it says a great deal about YOU that I (who doesn’t eat the porkers or the beefs) read your post through, from first to last word, and loved every bit(e) of it! Visiting you here is SUCH an experience – in trying to find words for it, I’m drawn to your own description of the aromas wafting up and down the staircase that drew you, irresistibly to the stove and the women in your life! Gracie!

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    • And may I add – even though it could go without saying – your copper pot from Nonna is an exquisite treasure! How you must love it, and each and every mark and dent upon it!

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    • Thank you, Spree, for being so complimentary. I find it so encouraging to read comments like yours and the others that came before yours. Zia is moved by them, as well. I really hadn’t expected you to stick with it, though, I must admit. Trippa isn’t for everyone and I’m certain some of my own family members would have skipped this post — except that I put a picture of Nonna in it. Crafty, eh? 🙂

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  26. You are an exquisite story teller, John. I read your posts, each and every word, wanting more to read. The recipe is beautiful and so is the description of “Nona” and her presenting the polenta to you. I hope your birthday was filled with joy, friends and lots of good food. I love the recipe page you showed us. It cracked me up. Your family has certainly been filled with flavorful food and women.

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    • Thank you, Geni. Yes, Nonna was very special, as were her co-conspirators, Mom & Zia. As much as the Men of that 2 flat bragged about being “Kings of the Castle.” it was, in reality, the Women who ruled. This, of course, was something we never would have said aloud back then. That was one realization best kept to oneself!

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  27. You are so passionate in your writing! I wish I had that talent, I think my kids jumping and screaming in the background drains my focus when I type up my posts!
    I only had trip once when I was a teenager at this Italian banquet hall, the texture was terribly rubbery! Looking at the photo of your dish, I think I could give this dish another try. Keep up with the wonderful writing, beautiful stories of your childhood and authentic Italian recipes!

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    • This is the best ilutstralion on how to prepare La Trippa alla Parmiggiana I found since leaving Trieste, Italy in 1952. It is awesome!!! And tell Patty not to pass on.

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  28. Thank you, Lisa, I really do appreciate your comments, but, come on now. You’re raising a family, the youngest of which is a two-year-old. You’re a working Mom, as well. And yet you manage to post something every day. Did I mention you have a two-year-old? I, on the other hand, have very little distraction and can write as little or as much as I want, whenever I want. There is really no comparison. You, and so many women like you, are to be lauded.

    Tripe can be rubbery if not cooked long enough. Still, we cut it into small strips to make it seem even less so when finished cooking. I’d be interested in hearing what your parents have to say about this recipe. 🙂

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  29. I’m definitely not a tripe fan, but….you make it look so delicious!! I honestly don’t know if I could resist if you placed that bowl in front of me. There’s a big chance I’d devour the entire thing. Oooo and happy belated birthday!! 🙂

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    • I can understand your hesitancy — and for some, outright refusal — to try trippa, Caroline. I’ve found that if it is trimmed correctly, cooked long enough, and chopped properly, that it isn’t nearly as chewy as what you may have come to expect. Come up to Chicago and I’ll fix you a bowl. Don’t worry. There’s room for Quincy, too. 🙂

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  30. Wonderful stories of cooking in your family and for me a reminder of how we’ve always said that we put the chopped onion into the olive oil and then we decide what we’re going to make! I’ve never cooked tripe – although I’m tempted now – but I have eaten it cooked by others and I’ve cooked andouillettes (tripe sausages) which I love.

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    • Thank you for commenting. Our families’ cooking philosophies sound very similar. Seeing the dishes you prepare on your blog, I bet you’d like “our” trippa. I’ve never heard of andouillettes but, I must say, I’d love to give them a try. There’s little chance of finding them either made or served here in Chicago. If I can find a recipe on the web, though, I’ll certainly make them — or at least try to. Thanks for the inspiration!

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    • Thank you so much, Christina. Trippa’s texture can be a bit challenging, especially if not trimmed properly or cooked long enough. But, when done right, it really is quite delicious. I’m sure you’d like it. 🙂

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  31. John, your posts are always so much fun to read. I don’t care for tripe but it is a favorite of my husband. His mother used to make tripe when we would visit her. She would make a totally different meal for the two of us, as she didn’t care for tripe either. My husband says he can’t wait to try your recipe.

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    • Thank you, Karen. Tripe certainly isn’t for everyone. Just look at the comments and it’s amazing how many households are “split” over it. I’ll give the same warning that Zia always gives me: make sure you get a good honeycomb tripe. With your finger, push into the tripe. It should be spongy and will spring back. An added benefit is that you’ll really look like you know what you’re doing to anyone within 10 feet of you at the meat counter. 🙂 Good luck and please let me know how it goes.

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  32. I have never *ever* seen a recipe that made me want to try tripe. Until now. Nonna clearly had it down not to a science but to an art. I would have to do the full Nonna treatment for plating it, of course! (Butter does make *everything* better, among other things!)

    I love everything about this post. The family history, so sweetly told. The mouthwatering recipe for something I’d never dreamed could make my mouth water. That gorgeous copper polenta pot. Zia’s typed recipe for genius.

    This is indescribably beautiful and makes my day, John!

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    • Thank you so much, Kathryn. As I’m sure you know, some posts just seem to write themselves and this was one of them. Nonna was such a sweet woman, a truly kind and gentle spirit. My memories of her, that pot, the dishes of polenta, and yes, tripe of all things, are among my favorite childhood memories. To see my recollections so well-received by talented people, such as yourself, is a reward I never expected. I am glad it made your day, Kathryn. You’ve made many-a-day for me.

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  33. By the way, I obviously was out of the loop for a bit and missed out on your birthday celebrations. I can see that you managed to have a spectacular round of parties, not least of all in the company of Flat Ruthie, and eat plenty of beautiful food, so I shan’t worry you were crying on the sofa over my absence. But I do wish you a glorious year to come that feels like birthday partying all the way through! Many happy returns of the day, my friend!

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    • Thank you, Kathryn. It was a good birthday and bringing along Flat Ruthie was fun. Her predecessor, Flat Stanley, apparently made quite an impression during his appearances here and there were many people who stopped to tell us about it. From what she told me, Flat Ruthie loves Chicago so I expect her to come back for another visit this Spring. Stay tuned … 😉

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  34. Thanks for the comemnt Jackie. While I’m glad I gave it a shot I don’t think I’ll be eating Pan di Trippa again. Still, you gotta give new experiences a shot.

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  35. Pingback: A week in the French Alps – encore | Promenade Plantings

  36. Pingback: Trippa alla Marchigiana « goodthingsfromitaly

  37. John, I loved this post, thank you. You wouldn’t get tripe past most of my family, but I would happily eat a bowl of it straight, especially if prepared like this. Our local Italian deli sells pancetta flat and another type of salted pork – in small quantities for quite a lot of money. They’re flat pieces, maybe 4″ square, and mostly fat with a thin layer of meat. The shop owner once told me that the older Italians use it exactly as you describe using the battuto. I’m heading up there this morning, so I shall buy some and see what it’s like!

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    • Thank you, Celi, for leaving such a nice comment. Among my generation with my family, I’m the only one to still eat tripe and actually make it. I’d make battuto, too, if I could find good salt pork. It’s just not available like it once was. our pork has been bred to be leaner. It’s better for our heart health but not so good for the pork’s flavor. I hope you do get some salt pork and use it to make battuto. The aroma in your kitchen alone will make it all worthwhile. 🙂

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      • Oh John, I wish you could have been there today. I walked into the deli and both Rita and Theresa, older Italians, both nonnas, were there. I asked if they had any battuto, and picked up a piece of salted pork marked “Guanciale” and another marked “Speck”. “Will either of these, or the pancetta flat work for making tripe?”, I asked.

        And it was on for young and old then. 🙂

        Oh no, you can’t buy battuto, you have to make your own, and you have to go to this butcher in particular to get the fatty pork belly. No, you can’t use the guanciale, because it’s cheek, and can only be used for matriciana sauce, which Rita thinks should have onions, but Theresa insists shouldn’t. And when they used to make the tripe dish in the old days (or battuto, bits of the conversation descended into Italian at that point and I was getting lost), they used the whole pluck, not just the stomach, including the oesophagus, and the lungs, and.. (lots of passionate arm waving ensued..) 😉

        I just love them. They’re SO passionate about it all. Having said that, I’m no more informed about battuto than I was when I walked in. But I bought some guanciale anyway.. 🙂

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        • Oh, Celi, how I do wish I could have joined you! It reminds me so much of my youth. Sunday mornings Sis and I accompanied Dad and we often stopped at Italian markets and bakeries, populated by Nonnas on their way home from Sunday Mass. You are lucky to have bought guanciale. I’ve yet to find it here. From what you’ve said, the ladies didn’t steer you wrong. My family always used onion in our battuto but, as is the case in most Italian cooking, so much depends on how Nonna made it and what she taught one’s Mother.
          I’m going to show this comment to my Zia. She will get a real kick out of it. I’ll ask her about using other animal “parts” in tripe but this is the first I’ve heard of it. Thank you, Celi, for helping to start my day with a smile.

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  38. How I love hearing stories about your family, so heart warming 🙂 You know, for the longest time I abhorred tripe, it was so chewy like eating rubber sneakers and then I had tripe braised in a tomato sauce with canellini beans served on crusty bread. It was so tender and had absorbed the flavors of the tomato sauce. I think more people would like tripe if they didn’t know it was tripe it was prepared well. Will have to see if I can find a good source of tripe but I’m not sure if the two of us can make a dent in 5 lbs of tripe … Thanks for another great post 🙂

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    • Thank you so much, Cam. It amazes me that so many of these dishes have so many memories attached. I didn’t realize that when I started this blog and it’s been a bit of a surprise. I totally agree that more would enjoy tripe if they didn’t know what they were eating. It’s easy to be critical but I would never eat an insect — Scorpions? Really? — but there far more who do than won’t. One thing to consider before rejecting that 5 lb slab of tripe: you can prepare it and freeze it. I do it all of the time. 😉

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  39. Pingback: Roasted Mackerel with Potatoes and Tomatoes | from the Bartolini kitchens

  40. I don’t know which part of this marvellous post I enjoyed most, John, but since I’m sure your family’s Battuto will become part of my every day life, perhaps that’s what has excited me most! I’m not really keen on the taste of capsicum (peppers) so I usually amend the proportions of my soffrito – but parsley, salt pork, onion and garlic … now that sounds ambrosial and I’m now on the lookout for some good salt pork here in my neck of the woods. Thank you – this may be life changing! Happy un-birthday, by the way. 🙂

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    • Thanks, Meredith, I cannot wait to tell my Zia that we have another battuto convert. Just wait until that scent fills your kitchen! It’s no wonder I ran up those stairs to see what was for dinner. How could I resist? You’ll see … 🙂

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