Lampredotto – Florentine Style Street Food

People often ask me:  ”What’s your favorite food?”  I have no one-favorite food, I have many, I like a lot of different things and it depends mostly on what I’m in the mood for to define my “favorite food” but the other day someone asked me what would be my last meal, now, that’s a tough question and after some thick pondering it hit me: panino al lampredotto.  Excuse me, whaaat???

Lampredotto is what Florentines for centuries have been snacking  on.  Throughout the city underbelly, in the shadows of the Renaissance ghosts you’ll find a street vendor on a souped-up “Ape” (miniature version of LA food truck), called Trippaio: the Tripe Man!  Usually a surly, edgy and moody man offering tripe and lampredotto, as is or as a sandwich (bread is reserved mostly for lampredotto, it doesn’t marry well with tripe). He will dig in a hot pot with his big fork, fish out a piece of meat from a simmering broth of vegetables and God knows what (very well guarded secret);  slice it in small chunks on metal tray.  He’ll then cut a bread roll in the middle, remove the inside, dip the edges in the broth, dress the meat on it, abundant salt & pepper, salsa verde on request.  A “raso” (full to the brim) of red goes great with it!

I believe locals are more enamored with this gluttonous sin than Dante’s rimes, the David and Ponte Vecchio put together.  When, while eating it, the greasy juices stream down my hands, all the way to my wristwatch, I reach a blissful state of nirvana where childhood memories and the present moment turn into one.  The first time my wife Daniela saw me eating it she considered divorce, later she found the courage to try it; now it’s her first stop when she’s in downtown Florence.  Our favorite place is in Piazza  de Cimatori.

Now, what the hell is lampredotto? It is the abomasums, the last stomach section of the cow. In the US  is called “green tripe”,  imagine my face when long time ago I went to the Farmer’s Market butcher and explained to him what I was looking for he told me that in the US it’s illegal to be sold for human consumption, it is used for dog food! (Go tell that to the Florentines…..)

So, if one day you’ll see an “Ape” on an LA street corner selling tripe and lampredotto sandwiches you’ll know that I was able to turn the law around to sell delicious offal to happy American citizens.

It’s now truffle season and on my next post I’ll disclose some interesting tidbits about the most expensive food on the planet.