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Juanita's Foods Hot & Spicy Menudo 

Pete's Shur-Sav Market
6633 Vernon Avenue
University City

Let's play a little Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. Only this time I'll try to connect my bowl of Juanita's Foods Hot & Spicy Menudo to the Shah of Iran.


The term menudo, meaning a traditional Mexican soup made of beef tripe and hominy, was taken as the namesake of the 1980s Puerto Rican boy band, Menudo. At the height of Menudo's fame, the pre-pube heartthrobs bought a Cessna that had once belonged to Richard Nixon. Where did Tricky Dick get the single-engine ride? The Shah of Iran. Bam! Three steps, baby!

What does any of that have to do with Juanita's 29.5-ounce can of greasy ruminant stomach and hominy? Nothing. But it does help me forget the sheer awfulness of this product.

Eating an organ is always touchy. Your average meat eater couldn't tell you, for instance, where the T-bone resides in a cow, or what muscle is now his New York strip steak. This is not the case with livers, hearts and stomachs. We may not know exactly where they grow in the living beast, but we damn well know what they do.

If an animal were a house, cuts of meat would be like the different rooms. Organs, on the other hand, are the plumbing and HVAC systems. We want them to work, and that means we want them firm. But if a can of Juanita's Foods Hot & Spicy Menudo were a house, the rock-hard hominy would be the bricks and the gelatinous honeycomb tripe would be fresh mortar.

Juanita's stomach is not so firm. Fatty is more like it, and between my molars and the tooth-size kernels of hominy, the squishy tripe waged a losing fight for recognition.

So what did I do? I corralled a few jiggling slices of tummy and opened the hatch. To my relief, I didn't turn green. I didn't gag, and I didn't spit. In fact, Juanita's Foods Hot & Spicy Menudo doesn't taste too terribly bad.

But just as the Shah fled Iran, Nixon had to resign or face impeachment proceedings and Menudo members had to quit the band on their sixteenth birthdays, I couldn't finish my bowl of Juanita's Foods Hot & Spicy Menudo. It just didn't seem right to add another step of separation.

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July 29, 2020

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