A La Espanyola, or “in the Spanish style” (my rough translation), is the theme of this month’s edition of Lasang Pinoy (The Filipino Taste), hosted by none other than Purple Girl of In Lola’s Kitchen).

Unlike Purple Girl, I don’t remember our dining table being predominantly Spanish-themed at any one time. Sure, we had the usual Adobo, Asado, Mechado, Menudo, etc., but my mom placed no more emphasis on those dishes than on other Filipino ones such as fried fish, soups like sinigang, the occasional canned meat/fish dish (corned beef, Spam, sardines), pansit (noodle dishes), vegetable stews and salads. I did have a preference for my mom’s Chicken Asado over the other “ado” dishes, as Purple Girl likes to call them. Mom’s was a very simple one, with soy sauce, bay leaf, lots of garlic and black peppercorns as the main seasonings. But to a kid who asked for this dish often, every single time she prepared was one more deposit into my love account.

At Christmastime, yes, we had the usual festive Spanish dishes like embutido, a rounded pork meatloaf, but nothing like the American kind, morcon (beef rolled and stuffed with goodies like gherkins/cornichons and carrot strips/sticks among other things) and hamonado (a pork dish made to taste like ham but isn’t cured for any major length of time, so to me the name always translated to “ham-like”). Edited to add: I forgot, hamonado is really more Chinese than Spanish, but it does bear the Spanish name like many other dishes of the comida china variety. But then again, I didn’t really notice these dishes being prepared only at Christmastime, as they were on the table often enough the rest of the year.

Come to think of it, I used to cook a lot like my mom, preparing dishes just because, not to follow any calendar or cooking season. Now that I’m learning a lot more about the liturgical year, and am more conscious about following the seasons’ harvests, there is more of a rhyme and reason to my cooking schedule. It’s also very satisfying because I’ve got most of my magazines, cookbooks, and recipes now arranged chronologically, just like this blog, so one day I hope that my children will be able to observe the passing of the seasons by following the same rituals I am now documenting. There is something about doing things this way that brings much comfort and peace.

At any rate, let’s talk about callos. Depending on which Spanish-English dictionary you consult, you’ll get a translation of tripe, or callouses, or scallops. I admit to my Spanish being rusty, so I wouldn’t be able to tell you for sure, though both “callouses” and “scallops” could apply to the way honeycomb tripe looks. [I personally prefer the finer kind, but it wasn’t available.]

What I *can* tell you is that I never touched this stuff until I was grown. There it is again: the abhorrence for something so familiar and near, turning into tolerance, then fondness, and eventually a longing or even a craving, when it appears in a setting far from home. Though tripe is accessible enough where I am and I could make this dish anytime I want to, its association to the land that I grew up in evokes more affection than it ever did when I encountered it back then on our family’s table. Believe it or not, I tasted it first at Dad’s (a Filipino restaurant chain) in 1994, when I came back, already married and had a child, and my cousin took me there for lunch. It was like I had never seen it before and couldn’t wait to taste it. Of course, I had seen it here often enough, at Filipino parties and such especially, but don’t ask me why I had to wait to go home to the Philippines to have my first mouthful. I can’t explain. But it was bliss.

So now I make this dish once or twice a year — not too often because of health concerns, but often enough to keep my kids familiar with it. They *love* it, and even the little ones who rarely ever eat the veggies that come with this dish — chickpeas, sometimes green olives, the red peppers — oblige me by eating them along with the meats and their favorite Spanish chorizo slices.

I do apologize for the picture. This was the dish I prepared for our most recent household gathering, and the same afternoon my 15-yo brought the camera to another party, and I couldn’t take the picture until she was back, at which time we only had leftovers, not even enough to fill this cazuela.

To prepare callos, you’ll have to pre-cook the meats. Do this as you normally would. Tripe can be pre-cleaned and pre-cooked several ways. [Here in the US, you can buy it pre-bleached (I know, yuk!) and cleaned.] One way is to rub it all over with vinegar and salt, then cook it. Or if you’re lazy like I am, I cook it in several changes of water after scrubbing it with salt. Some people pressure-cook it, but in this instance I’m of the same mind as the Slow Food folks. You can also vary the kind of meat that accompanies the tripe. I use oxtails and pork hocks interchangeably, or together, depending on what’s available.

The Recipe:

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 1/2 cups tomatoes
1/2 cup sliced Spanish chorizo
1/2 cup chopped carrots
1/3 cup chopped ham — I like using Spanish ham here, but other kinds of ham will work too
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/4 cup white wine
2 tablespoons vinagre de jerez (Spanish sherry vinegar)
2 cups tomato sauce, homemade preferred, but canned is okay
1 1/2 cups stock from the meats (I prefer just using the one from the oxtail or hocks, and de-greased, but I’ll leave this up to you)
3 cups meat pieces (pre-cooked pork hocks, or oxtails, de-boned)
2 cups pre-cooked and sliced tripe
1 cup canned or pre-cooked chickpeas
1/2 cup red pepper, in thick, diagonal strips
1/4 cup pimiento-stuffed olives, optional, but I prefer it with these than without
1/2 teaspoon Spanish hot pimenton/paprika
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Tabasco for serving, if desired

Heat the olive oil in a heavy casserole over medium heat. Add garlic and sauté for 15 seconds or until just beginning to turn color. Add onion and continue to stir until softened. Add tomatoes and cook, stirring, until limp. Add chorizo, carrots, and ham and stir a few minutes longer. Add tomato paste, white wine, vinegar, and stir well until tomato paste is incorporated. Add tomato sauce and the stock. Let this cook over low heat for 10 minutes to allow the flavors to meld. Add meat pieces, tripe, chickpeas, red pepper, and olives. Season to taste with pimenton, salt and pepper. Cook 5-10 minutes more, stirring occasionally, until red pepper is cooked to desired tenderness or crispness. Serve immediately, with Tabasco on the side, so guests/diners can adjust the heat.

Vamos a comer!

This concludes my LP 14 entry. Thank you so much, Purplegirl, for hosting!!