Do you like tripe sometimes, and other times find it to be a bit much? “The first time I had menudo, it was amazing,” says rworange. “The tripe was almost as soft and succulent as bone marrow.” Her second bowl of menudo, however, was not so awesome. “I swear the cow was still attached and mooing—ick!”
Menudo varies in preparation and spicing, but there are also variations in the type of tripe that gets added to the mix. There are four kinds of tripe (panza), says Eat_Nopal, and they vary in texture and flavor. Cuajo is honeycomb tripe, with the familiar honeycombed appearance. It has a rather, um, intense flavor. Libro has a ruffled, lacy appearance, and is known as leaf tripe or book tripe. Callo and pancita are the smooth varieties of tripe. Pancita is the most tender and mild-tasting of the tripes; it comes from the smallest of the cow’s four stomachs. If you want to know what kind of tripe is in your menudo, simply ask, “¿Que tipo de panza usa?” You may find that many places use a combination of tripes, so there will be plenty for you to pick and choose from.
Sam Fujisaka describes a simpler taxonomy in Colombia. Smooth varieties of tripe (callo) are called toalla, and honeycomb tripe is called de la colmena. Both varieties have their fans. And you know what else is good in menudo? Hooves. Seriously, try it.