La Verdad taco battle royal: carnitas v. tripa
Full disclosure: I love carnitas. Love love love. Would marry if legal in Massachusetts.
My previous experiences of tripe, on the other hand, involve the thin-sliced rubbery stuff encountered in pho dac biet (which The Boy loves), and the Devil's Tower-like gelatinous mass they used to keep on the counter of the pet store in my hometown (which dogs loved).
So yes, I did go into this round with a slight bias. But I tried not to let that color my judgement.
Here we go.
A nice variety of parts of the pig: some good carmelized crispy roasted bits as well as the paler, fattier shreds. The green salsa verde sauce (TM) gave it a nice fresh zing.
One of the consequences, for better or worse, of being married to a Puerto Rican is that I've come to expect a certain level of salt in my pork (and in my rice, for that matter). And these carnitas, while juicy and fatty and otherwise delicious, were saddled with an underabundance of saltiness.
It didn't make it bad (she adds hastily); it just meant the flavor wasn't as bold as it could have been.
So, tripa, what have you got to say for yourself?
And thus I learned how good tripe can be when slow-cooked. It was not chewy or rubbery as I'd come to expect, but quite tender.
La Verdad's takeout menu (PDF) describes this as "grandma's tripe," which leads me to believe abuela was a feisty lady. The meat was smothered in a searingly spicy sauce, making it impossible to get any sense of the flavor of the tripe itself; the accompanying red onion and scallions pretty much got lost in the sensory chaos.
So although the carnitas didn't rock my world as much as I'd expected, the flavors were still closer to my preference. And while the tripe has made me think twice before eschewing it in future, it was too picante for my palate.
Winner: taco de carnitas
Okay, who's next?