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LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

Monica Bencomo of Albuquerque, New Mexico wrote in to tell us about her favorite holiday dish: menudo. It's a red chili-based soup that her mother cooks almost every December.

MONICA BENCOMO: My mom makes the best, with just the right amount of meat, the right amount of hominy. The other thing, too, that makes it different is my mom cuts the pieces of meat really small.

WERTHEIMER: The meat in the soup is tripe - the stomach lining of a cow. Tripe has a pungent smell and a consistency that can sometimes be, well, hard to stomach.

BENCOMO: The texture, though, is kind of soggy but rubbery. And so in large pieces in your mouth it can be pretty gross.

WERTHEIMER: But Monica Bencomo says her mother's careful preparation avoids this culinary pitfall and makes a steaming hot bowl of menudo an essential part of celebrating the holidays. You can read more about menudo and other holiday food specialties at npr.org.

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WERTHEIMER: This is NPR News.

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