Mondongo (Choluteca, Honduras)

Why do I do these things?  Any sensible person would have let well enough alone.  But me?  Heck no!

Gloria and her sisters started up a small business about 12 or 15 years ago making mondongo soup.  Every single Sunday for all these years they’ve made soup to sell – and the business has grown by leaps and bounds.  So when Gloria started talking to me about it, for some bizarre reason I decided I wanted to make a video about the whole process.

The process actually started Friday morning when Gloria and Maria headed to the market to buy tons of vegetables.  Well, maybe not tons – but pretty darn close!  They arrived back at the house with the truck chucky jam full of yucca, squash, cabbage, and plantains.

I joined them Saturday morning at the ungodly hour of 5:00 in the morning to go back to the market to by mondongo – the lining of the cow’s stomach.   By the time we left the market, we had 212 pounds of mondongo in the trunk, along with 150 pounds of cow feet.  Somehow all that would make its way into the soup.

As soon as we arrived at the house, everyone sprang into action.  A couple of the girls started washing and cutting the mondongo; others cut veggies, and still others tended to the fires all this would cook over.

By noon, the mondongo had been boiled with lemon to get rid of the cow’s food, and had soaked in lemon water for a few hours.  It was finally ready to be cooked.  Gigantic piles of  veggies had been cut and stashed for the next day.  Five fires had been lit, and five enormous pots of soup were started.

The mondongo boiled for the next five hours over the steady supply of firewood they piled up beneath it.  Finally, after a very long afternoon, the pots covered and allowed to sit and stew overnight.

This morning, at 4:00, I stumbled out of bed and blundered through the dark back to Maria’s house.  The fires were just being relit to take the soup up to a boil once again.

The next four hours were a blur of activity – taking the mondongo and cow feet out of the soup and cutting them into bitty pieces, cutting more veggies and adding the ones they cut yesterday, cleaning, organizing, etc… 

But somehow, by 8 in the morning, all was ready – and people came.  They came slowly at  first – one here, another there.  Some came with buckets to be filled so they could eat it at home, while others preferred to eat at the tables provided at the house.

The pace slowly picked up, and the pots of soup quickly emptied out.  By around 11, there was a steady line of 5 or 6 people waiting with buckets – and Maria was continuously dishing up soup.

By noon, it was gone – every last drop of it.  There only remained the task of cleaning up.

And I filmed the entire process and am in the process of putting it together.  I hope it’ll be an interesting video – it was certainly an interesting process to watch!

PS:  In case you are wondering… I tried the mondongo and found it pretty darn awful!  At least I tried it…

Cutting squash for the mondongo soup

Cutting squash for the mondongo soup

The five enormous pots filled with cow feet and mondongo

The five enormous pots filled with cow feet and mondongo

books by Nancy Sathre-Vogel

About Nancy Sathre-Vogel

After 21 years as a classroom teacher, Nancy Sathre-Vogel finally woke up and realized that life was too short to spend it all with other people's kids. She and her husband quit their jobs and, together with their twin sons, climbed aboard bicycles to see the world. They enjoyed four years cycling as a family - three of them riding from Alaska to Argentina and one exploring the USA and Mexico. Now they are back in Idaho, putting down roots, enjoying life at home, and living a different type of adventure. It's a fairly sure bet that you'll find her either writing on her computer or creating fantastical pieces with the beads she's collected all over the world.

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4 Responses to Mondongo (Choluteca, Honduras)

  1. Grand Canyon Harry May 17, 2009 at 7:01 pm #

    Nancy:

    Isn’t mondongo the same as tripe? Tripe (white in color) is a main ingredient in a favorite regional concoction here similiar to what you are describing – menudo. Here it is pretty good but no sweets like plaintains and of course lots of hot chilies or jalapenos!!! Whew! – can’t eat that stuff any more. Daryl & Davy – good going in the local school. I guarantee any Spanish you learn now you will remember the rest of your life. Pick a day and speak only Spanish with your folks – you too John!!! By the way – will you hit any winter weather south of the equator? Never been there. Thinking of you daily. Love you all.

    Harry

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  2. Tiffany May 17, 2009 at 9:39 pm #

    How brave of you to try the soup! It’s amazing what people in other regions find good to eat. We American’s are just so spoiled I guess…not having to use all the organ meats and such.

    Tiff :o)

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  3. nancy May 18, 2009 at 12:14 pm #

    I thought tripe was intestines?? This was the stomach – apparently it has a very different flavor from the intestines. But hten – what do I know? I don’t eat them on a regular basis at all!

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  4. Jack May 18, 2009 at 1:17 pm #

    Talk about commitment. Those are pretty early hours. Can’t wait for the video.

    Jack

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