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Maya Angelou's Menudos (Tripe Stew)

Compiled by Vicki McClure Davidson


Frugal Celebrities Recipes

Acclaimed author, poet, playwright, and journalist, Maya Angelou has been, and still is, an inspiration to millions. She's been a relentless pioneer and broken much ground during her life in her pursuit to help tear through racial barriers and improve American civil rights. She was the first black and female cable car conductor in San Francisco. She wrote the first original screenplay by a black woman to be produced: Georgia Georgia. During the 1960s, she was the northern coordinator of Martin Luther King's Southern Christian Leadership Council. She wrote songs for B.B. King, worked as an associate editor of an English language newspaper in Cairo, Egypt, was a features editor for a newspaper in Ghana, and was an assistant administrator of the University of Ghana.

Not many realize that Angelou had been an accomplished dancer and stage actress throughout the 1950s. She developed a reputation among the avant-garde, and appeared in Porgy and Bess on a 22-nation tour sponsored by the U.S. State Department in 1954–1955. She studied dance with Martha Graham. Even after her name was recognized in millions of American households as a prominent black female writer (her birth first name, by the way, is Marguerite, but she was nicknamed 'Maya' by her older brother when she was a child, and the nickname has stuck ever since), she continued to dabble in occasional film and TV roles. She was nominated for an Emmy for her role in the 1977 TV miniseries Roots, based on Alex Haley's novel. She also appeared with Janet Jackson and Tupac Shakur in the 1993 film Poetic Justice.

Her literary works and nominations and awards of achievement overshadow so many others in her field. Angelou has been called "America's most visible black female autobiographer" and became a distinctive voice for the rights of blacks. Angelou is perhaps best known for her series of six autobiographies, starting with I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings in 1969, which was nominated for a National Book Award. Her volume of poetry, Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water 'Fore I Diiie (1971) was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. Angelou recited her poem "On the Pulse of Morning" at Pres. Clinton's inauguration in 1993. Angelou's most famous poem, "Still I Rise," has become an American classic.

She has been honored extensively for her body of work, including being awarded more than 30 honorary degrees. Angelou has also received a Tony Award nomination for her role in the 1973 play Look Away and three Grammys for her spoken-word albums.


If you've not ever had tripe stew seasoned with chili peppers and hominy, aka menudos, you don't know what you're missing. Maya Angelou's cheap-and-delicious stew is soothing on the family food budget and perfect eating on cold nights.

If your kids have never had tripe, resist telling them what it is until you've made it a few times, especially if they are finicky eaters... trust in that they should love this rich-flavored, glistening, aromatic budget stew. Tripe may be difficult to find in some areas, so call ahead to see if your grocery store sells it. Finding tripe in Mexican grocery and other ethnic stores is usually fairly reliable.

This fabulous, yet humble, stew is more commonly referred to as "menudo," without the final "S." The term menudo is of Mexican-Spanish origin, from the Spanish menudos, meaning innards or giblets. Typically, tripe is from the first and second divisions of the stomach of a ruminant, such as oxen, cows, sheep, or goats. More simply put, tripe is stomach lining, is rubbery-textured, and the best tripe is honey-combed (from the second stomach—the lining from the first stomach is flat). Tripe is used in many dishes in many countries. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the word menudos was first noted outside of Mexican culture in 1929. According to the website Viva! Cinco de Mayo, menudo is highly prized and praised for its therapeutic properties:

Mexicans brag about menudo's goodness, about how the hot broth with its medicinal condiments, particularly the chili, replenishes vitamins A and C, soothes the stomach, and stimulates the gastric juices to overcome any loss of appetite.

This Mexican stew is super-easy to make, and more water can be added to make it go farther, if necessary. While not included in this recipe, some menudo recipes also call for simmering a calf's foot in the broth. Be sure to serve menudo, or menudos, in big open bowls.

Maya Angelou's Menudos (Tripe Stew)


Wash tripe, and cut into 1/2-inch-wide strips.

Place tripe, soup bone, garlic, salt, onions, coriander, chili powder, and water in a large pot. Simmer for 6 hours, or until tripe is tender, adding more water if necessary.

Add hominy, lemon juice, and cilantro, and cook over medium to high heat for 30 minutes.

Remove soup bone, and serve immediately.

Makes 8 servings.


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Angelou, Maya, Hallelujah! The Welcome Table, A Lifetime of Memories with Recipes, Random House, NY, NY, 2004.
Internet Movie Database, "Maya Angelou," (
Viva! La Cinco de Mayo website, "Aromatic soup boasts special qualities", (
Wikipedia website, (