Local News

Sunday, Jun 01 2014 10:26 PM

Menudo cook-off a tasty attraction in Bakersfield

  1. 1 of 21

    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Alfredo, right and Crescencia Marron, left, have a friendly competition with fellow menudo cook Eugene Gonzales at the 16th annual Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Menudo Cook-off at the Kern County Fairgrounds.

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  2. 2 of 21

    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Alfredo Marron III stirs the pot in the 4-5 hour process to cook the menudo at the Menudo Cook-off at the Kern County Fairgrounds.

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  3. 3 of 21

    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Alfredo Marron III stirs the pot frequently in the 4-5 hour process of cooking the menudo at the Menudo Cook-off at the Kern County Fairgrounds. The pot contains a bag with seasoning that cooks along with the menudo to add flavor.

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  4. 4 of 21

    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    People attending the 16th annual Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Menudo Cook-off at the Kern County Fairgrounds find a way to keep cool as they enjoy the event.

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  5. 5 of 21

    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Live music at the 16th annual Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Menudo Cook-off at the Kern County Fairgrounds brought out people wanting to dance.

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  6. 6 of 21

    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Matt Munoz and Mento Buru get the people dancing during the 16th annual Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Menudo Cook-off at the Kern County Fairgrounds.

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  7. 7 of 21

    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Ninety-degree weather doesn't stop people from dancing during the 16th annual Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Menudo Cook-off held at the Kern County Fairgrounds.

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  8. 8 of 21

    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Mento Buru gets the people dancing during the 16th annual Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Menudo Cook-off at the Kern County Fairgrounds.

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  9. 9 of 21

    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    People show their appreciation for the live entertainment at the 16th annual Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Menudo Cook-off held at the Kern County Fairgrounds.

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  10. 10 of 21

    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Jalapeno eating contest participants chow down the hot peppers during the 16th annual Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Menudo Cook-off.

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  11. 11 of 21

    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Mariachis perform at the 16th annual Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Menudo Cook-off.

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  12. 12 of 21

    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Rosie Aguirre is one of the many vendors at the 16th annual Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Menudo Cook-off.

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  13. 13 of 21

    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    With temperature into the nineties umbrellas are a popular item at the Menudo Cook-off Sunday.

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  14. 14 of 21

    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    The Raider nation shows up at the 16th annual Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Menudo Cook-off held at the Kern County Fairgrounds.

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  15. 15 of 21

    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Staying cool is handled in various ways at the Menudo Cook-off held at the Kern County Fairgrounds.

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  16. 16 of 21

    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Some people find a spot to relax and enjoy the festivities of the 16th annual Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Menudo Cook-off held at the Kern County Fairgrounds.

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  17. 17 of 21

    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    A pot of menudo slowly cooks for the 16th annual Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Menudo Cook-off held at the Kern County Fairgrounds.

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  18. 18 of 21

    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Camila Contreras bungee jumps in the children's area of the Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Menudo Cook-off held at the Kern County Fairgrounds Sunday.

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  19. 19 of 21

    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Sidres Moore attends the Menudo Cook-off held at the Kern County Fairgrounds Sunday.

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  20. 20 of 21

    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Jalapeno eating contest participants dig into the hot peppers during the 16th annual Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Menudo Cook-off.

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  21. 21 of 21

    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Crescencia Penaloza Marron speaks about their family tradition of making menudo and gathering together as a family just about every Sunday to enjoy each other's company.

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BY LAUREN FOREMAN Californian staff writer lforeman@bakersfield.com

Rows of tables topped with striped multicolor fabrics, grinders and bowls of red chili, and pasilla and black chili pepper coated the Kern County Fairgrounds with color Sunday at the 16th annual Menudo Cook-off.

More than 70 teams brought pot-fulls of the traditional Mexican soup, and thousands -- organizers estimate close to 15,000 -- packed the fairgrounds for tastes.

Team number 21 had decorated its tables with trappings of Mexican culture and history -- an agave plant used to make tequila, a picture of Mexican Revolution leader Emiliano Zapata and a wooden grinder used to crush strained corn into tortillas.

Alfredo Marron Jr., 53, said the portrait and display were part of the culture.

"It's part of the history," he said.

He similarly described the menudo his son, Alfredo Marron III, was making.

Their family has been making the dish for generations.

They entered the competition "to win," Marron Jr. said; and win, they did.

The team took home a first-place trophy for a display contest at the cook-off.

But mother of the family, Crescencia Penaloza, said menudo is about more than winning a competition.

It's a way to bring the family together and to teach the next generation an important part of their history: food.

"I don't want my kids to forget how our food comes about," she said -- through the hard work of Mexican ancestors, Penaloza added.

Blodgie Rodriguez, board chairwoman of the Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, said Mexican families made menudo -- or what started as peasants' food -- because they had little else to eat.

"It was the scraps of the cow," she said.

"It's become a delicacy," Rodriguez added.

The Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce began the cook-off as a fundraiser for the organization 16 years ago and decided to keep menudo the center attraction.

The dish contains tripe or parts of cow stomach, pig's feet, spices and corn.

The blend was most often spicy Sunday, but taste-testers scooped cups of the red-orange soup without pause.

They tasted, danced and talked as musicians sent vibrating blasts of salsa and popular music through the fairgrounds.

It lingered into a parking lot near an array of bounce houses and a rock-climbing wall.

Children waving cardboard fans walked from activity to activity and through sea of vendors passing out kettle corn, frozen fruit bars and plates of nachos.

Adults stood in line to purchase frozen treats and cold drinks with as much enthusiasm as the children.

Sisters Shellie Camargo and Phyllis Tijerina sipped cups of beer and purchased matching hats to fight the sun's blaze.

Tijerina made a trip from Paso Robles and Camargo from her home in Bakersfield to taste the menudo they say is part of many Sunday afternoons in Hispanic families.

Camargo said "Menudo every Sunday" is the norm.

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