Hailing from Ecuador and Mexico, menudo is a spicy soup that is built around the use of tripe as a base, with the addition of any other vegetables and spices that might be readily available. A dish that makes use of cuts of meat that are routinely discarded, menudo has grown from a dish that was created out of necessity into a soup that is considered to be nutritious and a good cure for a hangover.
The meat that is used in this soup is often the parts of cattle or sheep that are left after the choice cuts are prepared for sale. Thus, menudo often includes various types of organ meats, brains, tails, and even hooves. Most common of all the organs used is the intestines. Since cattle tend to have long sections of this particular organ, the intestines and the stomach are often used.
As for the broth, menudo may have a green, red, or clear base, depending on the types of meat used and the spices that are utilized in the basic preparation. Oregano, epazote, and ground chili flakes help to add flavor to the cleaned and cooked meat. Lime juice helps to add some tart sensation to the dish, while chopped cilantro and green onions also increase the flavor and the visual appeal of the dish. In some parts of Mexico, any vegetables in season will be added to the dish as well. Such items as carrots, bell peppers, or potatoes may be included, along with chick peas, red peppers, and raisins.
Because tripe requires slow cooking over an extended period of time, it is customary to make large batches of menudo at one time. While not containing as much meat as the similar pozole, menudo is no longer considered a dish that is only for the poor. It has evolved into a simple but flavorful dish that is found in a number of restaurants as well as cooked in the home.
Often served for breakfast, this dish is thought to be a great way to energize for the coming day, since it is loaded with ingredients from several food groups. The spicy combination is also considered to be an effective hangover remedy, making it especially popular the morning after holidays and other important feast days.