What's the difference between menudo and pozole?

Menudo and pozole are both traditional Mexican soups, and they are, in some respects, quite similar. In fact, Mexgrocer.com posted a two-in-one recipe that can be used to make either menudo or pozole, depending on what type of meat is used — the other ingredients are pretty identical. Both soups call for hominy which, according to The Kitchn, consists of whole corn kernels that have been soaked in a solution of lime or lye in order to soften their tough outer hulls. Both are also seasoned similarly — Mexgrocer.com's recipe makes use of a seasoning mix that contains dried onion, crushed red pepper, and oregano.

The main difference between the two soup recipes lies in the meat. Pozole is made with pork and/or chicken, while menudo is made with the less-appealing-to-gringos tripe. Of course, there's another striking difference between the two soups, in that one of them has a really unpleasant history behind it. And no, surprisingly enough, the soup with the gross origin story is not the one made with the stomach lining of a cow.

They have strikingly different backstories

Menudo stems from an early nose-to-tail eating trend amongst Mexican cattle ranchers — why throw away any cow innards when you can just make soup out of them instead? Menudo has the reputation of being quite the cure-all, perhaps most famously as a hangover recipe when eaten for breakfast. In fact, some have said (jokingly, we assume) that menudo even "raises the dead" (via the Aroman718 food blog).

Pozole, on the other hand... does not raise the dead. Kind of the opposite. Well, it wasn't used to kill anybody, but according to Chowhound, pozole was prepared by the Aztecs for special occasions... occasions which were also marked by unsavory sacrificial rites which, shall we say, left certain remnants (not of the cattle kind). But, as with the unwanted cattle parts repurposed by latter-era farmers, the Aztecs also made use of their... leftovers... by throwing those into the soup pot, as well. When the recipe later changed to include a less controversial type of protein, some say pork was chosen because it bore a close enough resemblance to, umm, that other stuff. Pozole is still, for some reason, seen as a holiday food — yeah, nothing says festive like memories of past cannibalism.

That's the difference between menudo and pozole — one is made with offal, and the other one was, once upon a time, something truly awful. Still, if you can get past any hesitation regarding either ingredients or past history, you might find they're both actually quite tasty!