Ooops. Wrong “menudo.” I meant this stuff:
Menudo is one of El Paso’s best kept secrets. And it’s either really, really good or dismally bad. There is seldom an in-between with this stuff. El Paso’s La Malinche serves a very, very good bowl of menudo.
Traditionally, menudo is served on weekends for breakfast, as it purportedly has recuperative powers post-hangover. I’ve never eaten it for that reason, but both Ursula and I love a good, steaming bowl of it . . . especially on a cold winter morning. Alas, it’s June and in the triple-digits of late, but on Fathers Day we went anyway.
So, how long have we been going to La Malinche for menudo? Here’s an indication. See this woman?
That’s Sandra. She’s been serving us for years, and she doesn’t even bother to ask us anymore what we want. She just motions us to one of the tables in her section; plops down a pitcher of tea and glasses with ice; fetches the onion, green lemon slices, Mexican oregano and crushed chili pepper; and then weaves through the hungry throngs to deliver to us some of the best menudo you will ever eat.
Menudo is a chili-based broth containing posole (Mexican hominy) and chunks of beef tripe (the “menudo” in menudo) that have been simmered for hours until they are marvelously tender. This is not to be confused is a bowl of “posole,” which substitutes pork for tripe and is not nearly as flavorful.
As with most of the really good Mexican restaurants, La Malinche is a real hole-in-the-wall lacking in both charm and ambiance. You come here for the food, not the decor.
But that’s okay. That’s what really good and authentic Mexican cuisine is all about, and it’s part of the dining experience.
Now, how to properly dress a bowl of menudo: Here locally menudo is served with bread (either toasted with butter or in whole rolls), green lemon wedges, chopped yellow onion, “Mexican oregano” (course, whole buds of the lippia graveolens plant) , and crushed red chili. We prefer the whole bread to the toasted so that it can be broken into pieces and floated into the broth to soak it up. So spoon in some chopped onion, drizzle on some lemon juice, float some of that bread, and sprinkle on some chili pepper and “oregano” (easy on the chili). As for that “oregano,” we like to rub it vigorously between the palms as we sprinkle it. As with most herbs, rubbing released both the essence and the flavor.
Do all that and this is what you get:
What a great way to wake up to Fathers Day in El Paso, Texas.