I just finished a restorative bowl of menudo. It is a Sunday tradition. Between my damned head cold (day 8) and recently self-inflicted social wound via my attempted beating of my neighbor Raoul I find that I have nothing better to do then to talk about why Tripe soup is so wonderfully delicious.

I can’t go running because of this malingering damned head cold so I need to do something to fill in the time. I don’t have a TV (not that’s constructive) nor even a couch to lie on to watch from even if I did have a TV. Sounds a little like self-pity? It gets better.

I don’t have any books to read unless you count the free stuff that Google so magnanimously gave away in their much over publicized Project Gutenberg. I am wearying of reading stuff that hasn’t seen the light of day in 100 years. The language back then was dreadful, as was the dress and social customs. I am plodding through D.H. Lawrence’s ‘Sons and Lovers’ but it is a pain I reserve for the late afternoon when I have some shade for the hammock and I can see cocktail hour shimmering not so distantly on the horizon. I tried to re-read Dostoyevsky’s ‘Crime and Punishment’ but after the first 100 pages or so I just wanted to shove an icepick through both eyes. It might be great literature but why does it have to be so unfriendly? There isn’t one sympathetic character in the entire story and the suffering goes on for page after page after page. Is there really redemption to be found in wanting to be punished for one’s crime? Maybe, but does the whole entire book have to be so exclusively about suffering?

The Russian soul suffers (okay) and the Russian artist needs to express that suffering (okay). But isn’t that what poetry is for; not novels? So I say if a Russian needs to suffer on paper then let him do it in 3 or 4 pages, not 400.  Besides if I want to read about suffering then I’ll go straight to the source; the Book of Job. And nobody in the history of the world ever suffered like Job. And the story is so much better than the Russian’s because in the end Job get’s to talk to God. And Job didn’t just kill an old woman with an axe; no, his sin was much more complicated, so hidden in fact that God had to explain it to him.

Best of all the Book of Job had a happy ending. He might have suffered unlike any other man had ever suffered but in the end he gets to speak with God. And how perfect is that? And how many of us haven’t wanted to talk to God? Now in Job’s case more than half the conversation was a one-sided ass-chewing but in the end he was redeemed and then doubly blessed. Now that’s the kind of story about suffering that I want to read.

Oh, yeah, menudo.

For you non-aficionados, menudo is not about the tripe. Menudo is more about the sum of its parts. While it might be that the cook sets in front of you a bowl of red broth with a bunch of chopped up stomach bits submerged in it; it’s the other things that make the soup shine. First, you dump in precisely 3 heaping tablespoons of finely chopped white onion. You then take a largish pinch of oregano from the communal bowl and grind it into a dust like consistency as you add it to the bowl. Then you squeeze the juice of one or two small limes to the broth before adding a small measure of an extremely hot orange colored chili sauce made from what I would reckon to be pure habaneros. You stir the mixture together before taking the first spoonful. The flavors are: spicy red broth, citrus, heat, oregano, and fatty unctuousness. And the textures are crunchy, chewy, and gelatinous. Freshly squeezed orange juice is a suitable accompanying beverage although cerveza is better. But unfortunately 8 am is too early for most of us to be drinking beer. The only side dish is a cloth napkin covered plate of freshly made corn tortillas.

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