I eat anything. Even if I don’t particularly like it, I’ll still eat it if it’s served. Except when it comes to lamb.
My first experience with lamb was during a visit to my father in Scotland when I was sixteen. We went to a restaurant that served authentic Scottish dishes and I was served mutton. I thought it the most disgusting thing I had ever seen or smelled, and embarrassed my dad by refusing to eat it.
Over the years I associated all lamb with mutton. Of course I eventually learned that lamb, young lamb, had a totally different taste than old skanky mutton meat. Still I wavered whenever I was served lamb at a friend’s house or at a party. I NEVER ordered it in restaurants and it became sort of a joke in my family…. “oh Jo will eat anything but lamb”.
There were some rare instances in my life where I ate lamb and actually liked it. Like when my Greek friends Elli and Daphne worked at their mother’s restaurant in Eugene, Oregon. Poppi served Greek and Indian food in her charming spot called “Anatolia”. During one summer visit we had a picnic by a lake. After swimming and relaxing on the shore, Poppi brought out a basket of leftovers from the night before and started plating up some garlic rubbed, grilled lamb souvlaki. I took a deep breath (trying to plug my nose from the inside) and reached for a stick of lamb. I took one bite, then took a breath. I don’t know if it was the garlic or the fresh Oregon air, but I liked it! I had seconds!
That was twenty years ago.
This past summer I went to the Gourmet on Fire food event with friends and family. My favorite bite of the event? Neal (Grace & BLD) Frasers LAMB Burgers. Yep. Lamb. I had seconds AND thirds. Recently I chatted with chef Fraser and told him how much I loved those burgers. My husband butted in and said “and she doesn’t eat lamb, so that’s a real compliment”.
While eating dinner at Animal Restaurant last week, chef Vinny whispered that he would be getting some amazing lamb in the next day. I sort of gave him a blank look and said “Great!”… but honestly I was thinking “Oh my but I don’t eat lamb! ANYTHING BUT LAMB!”. My husband does eat it, so I figured I would make him order it the next time we went to Animal… which was last night.
We had an early dinner with friends Jeffrey and Rina. Our server Billy recommended the LAMB, so we ordered it of course, as well as the Rock Cod, Raw Amberjack, Petit Basque and Fried Hominy. I also ordered the Duck Confit as a “back up” for me in case I couldn’t take eating the dreaded lamb.
Well surprise, surprise! I thought the Leg of Lamb was WONDERFUL. Tender, pink and juicy, served on a bed of stewed peppers and potatoes. I should have known not to worry if it came from the Animal kitchen!
So for any “lamb naysayers” out there… take note. I can now stand tall, with my head held up high and say with fierce conviction… “I EAT ANYTHING… EVEN LAMB!”.
Dining Date 11/2/08
“Anything But Lamb” by Jo Stougaard
435 N. Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90036