"Tripe - A Most Excellent Dish" by Marjorie Houlihan

Cover of the book "Tripe - A Most Excellent Dish" by Marjorie Houlihan
Prospect Books, Blackawton 2011

People think of tripe as just another dreary post-war substitute for real food, one of the worst aspects of food rationing. But it has a long and glorious history as a staple of working-class diet in the industrial towns of Lancashire and northern England. It was never a new invention of the Industrial Revolution, but its cheapness and nutritional value gave it a new significance among cotton workers and other factory hands. All through Lancashire there arose large numbers of tripe dressers (often back-room businesses) and tripe restaurants (often of surprising ornateness and magnificence). All this disappeared with our growing affluence in the sixties and seventies and tripe is (almost) now restricted to chefs exploring the byways of butchery and to people with long memories. Of course, it was never specifically English: lots of other cultures embraced tripe cookery and made classics of the dish not least the French (Tripes la mode de Caen) and the Turkish market workers who still rejoice in tripe soup of a morning. Marjory Houlihan's charming and instructive book tells the story of tripe in Lancashire as well as giving recipes from around the world. It was first published in Bolton in 1988 but this is the first time it has been given national distribution. So that a fuller picture is available, Prospect Books has also printed Roy Shipperbottom's essay on the tripe restaurants of Lancashire and Lynda Brown's essay on the cooking of cow's udder (elder) in the north country. We forget the richness of England's food history and food culture and this book, with others in 'The English Kitchen' series, goes some way to redress the balance.

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