My dad eats tripe


My father has been writing his biography for some months now. From time to time he passes extracts to me which I have read to my children. I think he writes for them and his other grand-children mostly and, doubtless, their children and theirs that follow. He has wonderful tales to tell which, by the way, he tells beautifully. Here are a couple of extracts which seem appropriate for the GreatGrub community and which he has allowed me to publish. Thanks dad.


On September 1 1939 I was sent from London to Gravely in Herfordshire to avoid the expected ravages of Hitler’s blitzkrieg on London. With my brother, Malcolm (Mac) I was billeted with the Warbey family. Mr Warbey was a farmer who also had a butcher’s shop in nearby Stevenage. The Warbey’s were a gentle and generous family except, that is, for Freda, the daughter, who was a state-registered nurse who ruled us with a rod of iron. Meals were usually good and plentiful, but not always to our liking. It was in the farmhouse kitchen that I first encountered tripe and onions. Tripe, which may be a purely English delicacy, is the inside of a pig’s stomach. Boiled, and apparently without seasoning, it was for my brother and me a singularly repellent dish. Having a ‘cast iron’ stomach I wolfed it down with relish. But not Mac. He refused to let a morsel pass his lips. Perhaps he was more Jewish than me!

Always a faddy eater he resolutely refused to eat the tripe and boiled onions on his plate and was told that he would not be allowed to leave the table until his plate was clean. Since he had not complied by the time the table had to be cleared, Mac was consigned to the dairy with his plate and told that he would not be allowed to leave until he had consumed the lot. After half an hour he returned apparently chastened and with a clean plate. Having suffered for him I was pleased that he had redeemed himself. Three weeks later the smell in the dairy was identified as a pile of rancid tripe and onions thrown by Mac down the back of a milk machine.


I was sometimes permitted by Mr Warbey to go with him to the butcher shop in Stevenage. In a room at the back of the shop Mr Warbey would make sausages and I was able to assist. The sausage machine was similar to a large cast iron mincer placed squarely and heavily on legs on the concrete floor. The sausage mix would be made up and placed in a large zinc tub. The mix comprised meat, beef, lamb or pork, which had to be minced, bread crumbs and herbs. Handfuls of the mix were fed into an aperture on the top of the sausage machine. A large handle on the side of the machine was turned and the meat mix was fed down to emerge through a long metal nozzle in front of the machine. It was my task to turn the handle. “Turn it slowly, lad” Mr Warbey would say “and steady. We don’t want it to come out too thick or too thin”. Over the nozzle Mr Warbey fed a skin which came from the gut of a pig. As the meat mix fed into the skin Mr Warbey would take the completed coil of sausage and, with a deft flick of his fingers twist the filled gut into individual sausages in bunches of four on an eighteen inch long rope. Any wonder that to this day I am very partial to fried sausages.

Re: My dad eats tripe