London Street Foodie on tour: tripe in Florence
The joy of street food is that it can be eaten anywhere. Trucks travel, stalls can be set up at short notice and trailers can be loaded and unloaded with relative ease – and of course streets tend to be excellent hosts. Here at LondonStreetFoodie we like to travel – that is, I have always taken every opportunity to discover new places and have happily found out that some of my new writers do too.
As much of London street food is inspired by what is happening abroad, I thought it might be fun to introduce some street food parallels from around the world every so often. This first one comes from Max Brearley who recently found himself in Florence eating that city’s rather testing street food speciality. Our next stop is Japan from where I’ll report back in a few weeks’ time.
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Florence for the foodie on a budget can be a challenge. You just have to look at the queues at the Uffizi to know that this is a city bursting at the seams with tourists; people, who having marvelled at the treasures of the Medici will be looking for a bite. Inflated prices and so-so dishes are common and whenever this is the case, it’s prudent to hunt down the street food stall with a queue of locals. Well in Florence there’s no getting passed the trippaio or tripe sellers. Tripe is an ingredient forgotten by many elsewhere in Europe but has been the hot ticket in Florentine street food for over a century – there are a handful of street sellers who feed the appetite of Florentines and tourists alike.
We find our trippaio at the corner of Via Dell Ariento and Via S. Antonino, by the Mercato Centrale. Signs in Italian and Chinese outline the simple menu with the popular choice being the Panini di Lampredotto. Tender from having been slowly simmered this is the cow’s fourth stomach, served only with a pinch of salt and pepper. For those not inclined towards offal there’s a safer choice with the Panino con Bollito (boiled beef). Each panino is kindly priced around €3.50, which explains the crowd, drawn from all walks of life.
Cities throughout Italy have their own twist on serving tripe. Our pick is the Panino con Trippa served in the local Fiorentina style. It’s the second stomach; which we know as honeycomb tripe, sliced into thin strips and cooked in a simple tomato sauce. The bread roll is firm, which is all the better to be loaded with the strips of tripe, ladled with a little extra sauce. Wrapped in wax paper it’s a case of digging in straight away. Detractors bemoan tripe for its rubbery texture but this is not unlike calamari, with a firm bite – doubtless it is all down to the cook as to whether it is firm or chewy. Much of the flavour comes from the sauce – tomato, oil, onion and a nice amount of seasoning. It’s a simple pleasure which is light on the pocket and fills the stomach ready for a hearty climb up the duomo.
by Max Brearley who tweets from @maxbrearley