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Dig in ~ it's menudo at Bravo's Cafe in Las Cruces.

There is a charm in making a stew. ~ Annie Besant

There is a charm in eating stew, too. The Mexican beef tripe stew, menudo, is one of these.

If you’ve never eaten beef tripe ~ or cow’s stomach lining ~ don’t weird out on me . . . yet. Listen . . .

I first tasted sopa de tripas ~ tripe, onions, and garlic simmered forever in broth ~ in Spain. Liked it right away, since I had grown up eating chitterlings – pig’s intestinal lining (you’re still with me, right?) with blackeyed-peas and collard greens for New Year’s Day. Tripe tasted similar.

The next time was over a decade later in Brooklyn.

A Dominican restaurant near my church served sopa de mondongo, a tripe stew heavy with cassava, carrots, and potatoes. A hunk of toasted bread, slathered with butter, came with. The combination never failed to warm me up enough to go out and brave the cold again on winter days.

My most recent encounters with tripe have come in the form of menudo.

Actually ate menudo for the first time during a scouting trip here before relocating from New York. Found it spicier than mondongo ~ the red chile broth does that ~ and filled with white corn hominy instead of root vegetables.

I decided whatever else this part of the country did or didn’t have going for it, menudo was good stuff and yes, we could move here.

Several Las Cruces eateries serve menudohere’s one I recommend:

Menudo at Bravo’s Cafe

You know it’s not about fancy decor as soon as you walk in. It’s about what’s in the bowl.

Lovely big bowl of Menudo at Bravo's.

Menudo at Bravo's with bread and garnishes.

Bread is included, yet the large bowl of menudo by itself is a meal. There are generous portions of hominy and tripe throughout. The meat is tender and the mix of seasonings remind me of flavors first experienced in Mexico years ago.

How hot is it? A 4 on a scale of 1 to 10.

Lime, cilantro and chopped onion to serve yourself come on the side.

Do foods with “unusual” ingredients give you conniptions or do you dig in?