15 | Jan | 15

Richard Johnson

Load Of Old Tripe?

Love tripe. As the son of a Yorkshireman, I remember bowls of it, around Final Score time, for tea on a Saturday. It’s an original British street food which was once sold from carts and corners across the country — so we’re delighted to witness the birth of Tripe Night. This very evening. Nelly’s Barn, one of the current residents at Trinity Kitchen, will be cooking up Tripa a la Catalana, a hearty peasant plate with tomatoes, garlic and wine, alongside aperitifs and digestifs from the Somerset Cider Brandy Cellars. Nice. Given that the Tripe Shop, a Leeds institution, has recently had to close down in Leeds Kirkgate market, this feels like an exciting new beginning. Elaine’s wares were laid out inside her chilled cabinet like some mystical runic arrangement: here, the bleached stomach of a cow, creamy white and honeycombed; there, maws, or pig’s bag, smooth and plump; next to it weasand – cow’s windpipe – tubes cut into short lengths with a delicately frilly centre. Alan Harrison, when he reviewed the shop for the British Street Food app, wrote: “An elderly customer has travelled from Sheffield to buy honeycomb tripe. I ask him how he will eat it, and he launches into an enthusiastic description: he will cook it with onions, celery and milk, like his mother used to. Before he leaves he asks for another portion, open, and sprinkled with vinegar and salt, to eat as he wanders the market. (It’s okay, the tripe is cooked before sale, so is ready to eat. Phew.) Another product graces Elaine’s stall – polony. I’d always thought polony was a foreign invention, but in fact it’s rooted in the north of England. The name is probably a corruption of Bologna. Fat and pink, with a bright red skin, the Sheffield and Leeds recipes for polony were celebrated in the 1930s. This one is smooth-textured and gently spiced. Elaine bemoans the closure of surrounding stalls in the market, leaving hers a lone beacon in a sea of closed shutters. A bit like tripe itself. There used to be a shop in Dewsbury, she explains, but that’s gone. The nearest now is in Castleford, she thinks. Okay, it’s not to everyone’s taste. But if you’re in Leeds market, look up The Tripe Shop. You’ve probably never seen one before. And it may not be long before you’ll never see one again.” Sad to think that Alan was right. But maybe the cycle is ready to begin again….