What is tripe and is it good for you?

Tripe may not be your first choice for dinner, but throughout many cultures around the world, it's considered delectable comfort food. If you're a fan of ethnic food, chances are you may have already experienced a forkful or two. Tripe is commonly found in French andouille sausage as well as in soups of true Mexican, Indian, Portuguese, or Polish fare (via Post Gazette). You'll also find it in Vietnamese pho. By now, you could be wondering what exactly is tripe anyway, and are there any health benefits if you make it a part of your meal? 

The Spruce Eats describes tripe as the edible lining of a ruminant animal's stomach. Tripe comes mostly from cows, but can also come from goats, sheep, and pigs. Since cows have four stomachs, there are actually four different types of tripe — rumen, reticulum, omasum, and abomasum. Reticulum, better known as honeycomb tripe, is the most popular kind of tripe (via The Daily Meal).

How is tripe prepared?

Trying to look past the fact that tripe comes from a farm animal's stomach may not be the hardest part. Before tripe is edible, it must be "dressed," and this can be quite a process. In the U.S., if you buy tripe in the store, most of this procedure is already done for you. A thorough cleaning process means the butcher boils the tripe, peels off the lining, and removes any extra bits of fat. Since undressed tripe is unappetizing to the eye, butchers will bleach the meat to help reduce the brownish-green color. 

Is tripe really healthy for you?

Once tripe comes to the end of the dressing process, the flavor may actually surprise you. It's quite mild and it also tends to take on the flavors within the dish. The texture is more like calamari than chicken or beef, and it is surprisingly healthy for you. A 3.5-ounce serving has only 85 calories, is low in fat, high in protein, and contains vitamin B12.

The health benefits of tripe may not be enough to get you to take a bite, but at least there's some type of silver (or should we say stomach) lining to this unique dish.