Since yesterday morning, I have been cleaning tripe. The fresh but gungy tripe in a large enamel bucket was given to me by a local farmer in return for a basket of avocados. Cleaning tripe is probably the most successful appetite suppressant known to humankind. I have a small wire brush I keep for scraping and scrubbing the honeycomb tripe fleece and I boil it, scrub some more and boil it again. The pong is indescribable, even with vinegar in the boiling water. When I told my housemate about the visit from the pink-faced Baptist minister still known as Pete (not Keith), she said:‘If he managed to sit here and talk about God in a house reeking of tripe, he must have more faith than you give him credit for. He must have felt he was being tried like Job. He may be a vegan unbeliever by now.’
Tomorrow I shall make a pounded relish of chillies with lime juice, chopped tomatoes and corinder, than serve the tripe and relish to friends and my literacy group. Each year I go through this tripe or related offal ordeal and worry about wasting good food, but the tripe eventually is the colour of pouring cream and tastes excellent, or at least harmless. Out here it is a delicacy and all the local restaurants and farms have offal feasts as cattle, sheep and goats are slaughtered at the end of winter. Some local cooks boil the tripe in milk with onions and others curry it with turmeric or simmer it in tomato sauce.
So perhaps Pete should come for Sunday lunch and he can hear all about my housemate’s theory that everyone everywhere gets to be saved (the Pelagian heresy of universal salvation) and meet some Buddhists and few people who are reliant on their ancestors and a militant atheist who thinks extinction is the best way to deal with humankind. And we can all eat my wonderful cooked tripe together.
Sobriety is not for the squeamish.