FLORENCE, Italy—I took a deep breath and looked at the hot sandwich in my hands. Between a golden brown panino bun, smothered in parsley sauce, were the cooked innards of a cow stomach. I was about to take a bite of Tuscan street food, lampredotto.
Beatrice Trambusti asked me if I wanted it spicy. Beatrice, along with her mother and brother, opened the Lupen E Margo food stall 30 years ago near Mercato Centrale. I said yes, but only a little, as she added a teaspoon of green chili sauce. Beatrice handed me my lampredotto in a convenient plastic wrap with extra napkins.
Eating lampredotto standing up requires a certain grace. The local Tuscans stared at me as I tried to take a bite, then another, as chunky pieces fell to the ground for the pigeons to devour. I had to sit down to enjoy it.
At first glance, lampredotto resembles a pulled pork sandwich. The stewed tripe sandwich is made of the aburnasum, the fourth cow stomach. The lampredotto was once served as a peasant food, and was named after the lamprey eel that used to run rampant in the Arno River. The white, fatty parts are actually the outside lining of the stomach while the meat is the inside of the stomach.
The lampredotto was juicy and tasted like a cross between boiled chicken and pulled pork. The panino bread was soft and chewy, and soaked up the juice of the meat.
Lampredotto reminded me of something you would stumble upon after a night after the bars. The sandwich was tasty and filling, and something I would definitely eat again.