It's an ill wind, they say, that blows nobody any good - and one of the worst winds on record blew the cause of Australian tripe something very good just under a quarter of a century ago.

That was in 1979, when what has become probably Australia's grandest tripe festival - Sydney's annual Tripe Sunday - originated.

Tripe Sunday is, primarily, the creation of a group of friends who call themselves "Patrons de Tripe"…and include Mike and
Rosemary Calder, Joe Doyle and Daniel Fitzhenry.

This year they held one of their most successful Tripe Sundays ever. The date was August 24, and the setting Dan Fitzhenry's and Tracey Hay's Hydrographic House, overlooking Middle Harbour, at Cammeray in Sydney.

More than 50 tripe-o-philes attended the fiesta, a number of them bringing their own tripe dishes to add to the feast.

There was tripe to the left of us, tripe to the right, and tripe in front of us - more tripe than you could poke a stick at (to use an old Australianism), and the smacking of lips could be heard several blocks away.

And not only did the occasion have the quantity, but the quality, too, offering a true smorgasbord of tripe, in all its glorious multicultural diversity.

We had two sorts of Czech tripe soup, Mexican tripe, Moroccan tripe, Slovakian tripe, and no less than four Italian tripe dishes: Bolognese, Genoese, Roman, and tripe Lucca style (among others) - and not a skerrick of white sauce anywhere to be seen.

If there is a patron saint of tripe (which there surely should be), he or she was smiling down on Hydrographic House that windy, sunny Sunday in early Sydney spring.

But, before we get into the tripe nitty-gritty, let's go back to 1979, and the start of it all.

That year saw a maritime disaster in England, when the final event of Cowes Week - the famous and dangerous Fastnet Race - was devastated by one of the worst gales on record. Many boats were dismasted and several lives lost. And on one of the yachts in peril was Rosemary's husband, Mike Calder.

Dan Fitzhenry takes up the story: "When Captain Mike Calder (ex-hydrographer RAN) was participating in the horrific 1979 Fastnet Race, and disaster was setting in, I called his wife Rosemary to ask if I could do anything useful. Rosemary, in her inimitable fashion, replied that 'Michael knows ships - and he will come through'. Two days later Michael sailed out of the storm, still racing, never having reduced to bare poles during the entire tempest. Rosemary wrote to say thank you to me for my concern about my old brute friend. I wrote back to her saying that a lot of tripe had been slung over the Fastnet tempest period of 1979. Rosemary rang to say that in fact she liked tripe. So I said, 'Then let us have a tripe party, where we can eat tripe and sling some more verbal tripe as well'. So there you have it - and every year we have had wonderful tripe, and every year it gets better - Aharrrrrrrr!"

Some of those who have been involved in staging the resulting Tripe Sundays down the years happen to live at, or have holiday places at, Bundeena, south of Sydney, and this year's festival was originally to have been held own there, on the weather-worn Illawarra Coast, in Dan's Oceanographic House.

But distance was deemed to be potential problem, so the Sydney venue was chosen instead, and sited at the fitting location of Hydrographic House, which is replete with nautical mementoes and the other consequences of Dan and Tracey's eclectic lives and tastes (including a fine collection of paintings, sculptures, and New Guinea artefacts - Dan having been stationed in Port Moresby for some time).

Indeed, the guest list was as eclectic as the ambience - there're were old New Guinea hands, painters and sculptors, naval folk, hydrographers, Bundeena blow-ins, journalists, neighbours, and just mere tripe aficionados. Admittedly, there was a leavening of what we have come to term "the refusees" - those, companions mainly, whose opinion on tripe ranges from the complacent to the contemptuous - and there was alternative fare for these pitiable souls (whom we hope eventually to convert).

But first things, first. The wine. It has become customary to list the wine consumed at our new Sydney Tripe Society Memorable Tripe Meals (see elsewhere on the site), but this was more than a meal - it was a veritable blow-out - and the range and variety of the accompanying wines defies particularisation.

As a journalist of many years standing, if you will excuse the expression, I quickly discovered where the bar was (it was not difficult to find, it being next to the front door), and settled down to some serious wine-imbibing. One thing you quickly learn about tripe people - their taste in wine is as sophisticated and discriminating as their discernment of the more solid stuff.

There were some eminent whites (though Australian whites are not, generally, as distinguished as they might be) and some truly luscious reds. To pick too many out would be both invidious and liver-threatening, but one I must mention. It was a Wolf Blass Brown Label Shiraz - I did not get close enough to the label to tell the year - and it was as good a red as we produce. I was just savouring my first sip when a gentleman came up and seized the bottle, pouring himself two stiff glasses. "Good stuff," I commented. "Yes," he said, "I brought it." That was recommendation enough for me, and cornered the remainder of the supply.

But to the main reason for being there - the tripe. Again, one's digestion cannot do full justice to the fare on offer (I remarked that I wished I had brought several stomachs to the meal), so I will pick out what to me was the star of the day: a Slovakian roasted tripe roll.

It was the creation of the wife of one of the guests, Peter Mutkovic, a Czech tunneller. Yes, you read that right. He tunnels. If you want a tunnel, Pete's your man. At present he's burrowing away somewhere under the CBD, but that's another story.

Peter's wife Lenka, a computer expert, comes from Slovakia (as we all know, what was once Czechoslovakia recently had a friendly separation into the Czech Republic and Slovakia). She describes this highly unusual tripe dish:

"This is a meal which is based on traditional Czech way of preparing New Year's Eve beef. There have been some changes made due to structure and consistence of the tripe. As a meat which does not have a particularly attractive taste by itself, it has to be marinated before processing."

And here is the recipe (in Lenka's own words):


First you buy suitable piece of tripe long enough to roll it two times.
The tripe is than treated with liquid Maggi Seasoning (approx. 1 drop per square centimetre from both sides of the tripe). This seasoning has very typical savoury flavour and penetrates the tripe very deep adding some flavour into the middle of the tripe. Then you prepare a mix of spices for marinating. I have used a mix of:
40% Hungarian Style Paprika Mild (Marco Polo)
5-10% Madras Curry Powder (Spiceland Pty Ltd)
20-25% Garlic Powder (Master Foods)
20-30% Vegeta Gourment Stock (Podravka, Croatia)
5% beef stock (Maggi)
After mixing them all together, I rub the mix on both sides of the tripe and leave the tripe in fridge for 18-24 hours.
Then I prepare the spices for the vegetable sauce:
1 celeriac approx 120mm in diameter
4-5 carrots
2 parsnips
I clean them and cut them in small cubes, approx. 30mm.
I cook couple of eggs to create the middle of the roll.
Clean the eggs and place them at the end of the tripe strip. Then I add a piece of carrot cut in quarters, creating an attractive combination with the yellow and white colour of the eggs a more colourful centre of the roll (not interfering with the tripe with its tender taste).
Then I start to roll the tripe around the egg and carrot.
I also place one layer of speck (could be replaced through bacon, but the taste of bacon is not as significant as the speck) covering the whole rest of the tripe. Then I put some vegetables on the top of the speck (I have used a mix of frozen peas, corn and carrot in small pieces) to help braise the roll and make it more colourful. I wrap the roll with strong white string (other colours could be used but are harder to remove later). A better result would be achieved with natural wrap (I think Lenka means caille) which you do not need to remove after, but I cannot not find it here in Sydney.
I placed the rolls in ceramic dish (three of them) and covered with the prepared vegie cubes. Then I mixed some beef stock with water to pour it on the top.
I heat the oven to 190 Degrees Celsius and place the dish inside. After half an hour I removed the vegies into a bowl and leave the rolls to bake for another hour. Then I turn up the temperature on 250 degrees and bake the rolls for another 20-30 minutes to get crispy skin, pouring the beef stock on top every 10 minutes.
After that I remove the rolls to a dish and mix the vegie cubes with the sauce left over, adding another 50 ml of beef stock and placing it in the oven (250 Degrees) for 10 - 15 minutes. Then I put the cooked vegetables in a mixer together with 600 ml of thickened cream, and mix on high for approx. 10-15 min.

Well, even those of us familiar with tripe in all its manifold diversity cannot have encountered such an unusual tripe dish prior to this year's Tripe Sunday. I am ashamed to say that I also cornered the market in it, and had three separate helpings, before tracking down Peter and demanding the recipe. It will certainly feature in our next Tripe Society Memorable Tripe Meals lunch.

It added something to the wonderful world of tripe that I have not imagined possible before - the texture and taste of crispy tripe. I recommend it.

The rest of the day passed in something of a haze, so those other tripe chefs who brought along their dishes will have to forgive my not mentioning their creations in any detail (though if they have the recipes of their dishes, I would be glad to add them to this report, which is by no means finalised).

Interestingly, and perhaps quite coincidentally, this year's Tripe Sunday was one of the windiest Sydney August days on record. Trees all over the city were uprooted and debranched, roofs unroofed, and powerlines blown down.

To those with a taste for history as well as tripe, it was a fitting ambiance for the 24rd anniversary of that ill-winded Fastnet race, and the start of it all.













Fastnet survivor Mike
Calder (left) and Daniel
Fitzhenry, co-founders with Rosemary Calder of Tripe
Sunday in 1979



Magdalena Mutkovic praised
the wine selection




...but there's no stopping
hostess Tracey Hay, who
helped organise and co-
ordinate the feast




Guests help themselves to a
variety of tripe delicacies
from the groaning table




Chris Ashton (left) tells Robert Darroch how he first met Dan Fitzhenry in New Guinea many years ago




Daffodils brighten the living
room on the windy, early-
spring Sydney day




Jane and Peter Thornton
steady themselves before
enjoying the feast







Artist Hal Holman discusses his
New Guinea-inspired work with
Derry Simonds, who also spent some time in New Guinea








Peter Mutkovic, a Czech
tunneller, whose Slovakian wife, Lenka, produced a superb crispy tripe
with special sauce (see
recipe at left)





An item from Daniel Fitzhenry's
and Tracey Hay's New Guinea art collection used as the cover for
the invitation to Tripe Sunday

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