Although Florence is predominately known for its Renaissance era architecture and art, there exists a fascinating underbelly which merits a taste. Trippa (tripe) and Lampredotto (the Abomasum or fourth stomach of the cow) are two of the oldest and most typical street foods of the city.
Tripe has always been a poor man’s food–in Italy known as the Quinto Quarto or Fifth Quarter–and if you happen to be in some of the more savory parts of town, like San Frediano, which is oltrarno (literally across the Arno river from the center), at lunchtime you’ll be sure to see throngs of working men clustered around the many tripe carts that peddle their wares of offal and the lesser cuts. The Fifth Quarter describes the bits of an animal that, once butchered or quartered, are leftover after the prime cuts have been sold. This includes the tripe and lampredotto plus all the other internal organs: liver, sweetbreads, tongue, etc.
Tripe, which is one of the first three stomachs–usually the second–of the animal is most commonly prepared Alla Fiorentina (in the Florentine manner) meaning traditionally made with copious amounts of onion and tomato, stewed slowly until the ingredients dissolve into one another and coat the slivers of tender tripe with a film of sweet and salty goodness.
Lampredotto, which is nearly an exclusive Florentine ingredient, is the fourth stomach of the cow as already mentioned and requires a good amount of work involving a preliminary washing, boiling and then simmering in a stock of aromatics composed of onion, tomato, celery, carrots and herbs. Once it is tender, the lampredotto traditionally is finely chopped and placed in a foglie roll (bread with a crisp crust and soft interior) that is soaked in the cooking juices, with a generous dab of salsa verde or green sauce (chopped parsley, capers, garlic, olive oil and a splash of vinegar) added at the end.
Granted this sandwich is not for the faint of heart but it is meaty and tender and utterly satisfying and delicious. It’s a true Florentine delicacy. Grab a glass (or usually a plastic cup) of Chianti wine from one of the carts and for less than 10 Euros you have a yummy lunch.
Sergio Pollini, truck parked on via dei Macci, 126
Da Nerone (in the main farmers market–Mercato Centrale), piazza del Mercato Centrale near the Accademia museum
Photos courtesy of pucagiocattolo.blogspot.com – www.bbflorencefirenze.com – www.kplu.org – Luca Cai for www.toplifemagazine.it