Thursday, February 22, 2007

Beef Maw Mystery Solved

A group of us went to our favorite restaurant in Chinatown last night for one of their glorious banquets. If any of you come to Chicago, you absolutely MUST eat at Lao Sze Chuan in Chinatown. If you like the hot and spicy Chinese cuisine, then this place is ground zero for it.

Anyway, they have a huge menu and there's a section on it called "Very Chinese Special" which features delectable items such as "pork stomach in sour pickle" and "spicy beef maw."


What is this maw of which they speak?

It had been a burning question every time we went. So, last night I took the plunge and ordered it. It's an appetizer for only $4.50 so it wasn't like I was taking a huge risk.

When I requested it, the shocked look on the server's face was priceless and worth the $4.50 right there. She was so surprised and said, "Do you know what it is???"

"No, that's why I want it."

She motioned to her abdomen and said, "It is this part of the cow."

So, out it came. From what I could tell, it was either stomach, tripe, or intestine. Maybe it was the colon. Who knows?

It was sliced very thin. Having grown up in South Texas, I've had my share of menudo which is a vile soup made with hominy and hunks of tripe that are the consistency of discarded rubber tires. My grandfather, a rancher in Texas, used to make a stew from various cow innards that he called "mare-gut stew."

So, maw was not nearly as strange as I was prepared for. It was, indeed, very spicy, sort of pickled and served cold. The taste and texture actually reminded me of tofu skins. (When tofu is made, a skin forms on the top kind of like pudding skins. They're removed, dried and sold in packages as a meat substitute).

Three of us tried it right away and and all proclaimed, "Hey. It's not that bad!" while two of the servers were huddled in the corner, pointing at us to see our reaction. They were probably snickering in Mandarin, "Look! They're actually eating that stuff!"

Miss Healthypants held out for a while but finally succumbed, nibbling on a little piece.

Two of my friends absolutely wouldn't touch it.

So, there is the story of beef maw.

Oops. It was the first day of Lent. I don't think you can get anymore un-vegetarian than maw. I am, therefore, a naughty, wicked Catholic. I should go to confession and tell the priest, "And on Ash Wednesday, I consumed maw . . . ."


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At 5:56 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are brave.

For eating Maw and for going to confession.

At 8:09 PM , Blogger Iwanski said...

Maw. Nope. Not eatin' that.

At 3:44 PM , Blogger Lorraine said...

I definitely want to go there this summer. I am not one tiny bit interested in the maw.

At 12:57 PM , Blogger JH said...

Hilarious post!


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