Today’s lunch was delicious. This was a stark contrast to the “lambs fry” we were forced to eat as children.
My mother was an exceptionally good cook. But I guess everybody has an Achilles heel, and Mum’s was lambs fry.
For the benefit of those with a sheltered culinary life, lambs fry is the liver from a young sheep. Here’s where part of the problem started. Living on a farm, home-grown, slaughtered and prepared meat was our norm. We didn’t eat lamb. The sheepmeat we enjoyed was sourced from older animals, referred to as hoggets. As animals gain age, the flavours and textures of meat and offal products sourced from them also gains complexity. Livers are no exception. They also gain granularity with age – crunchy bits – not to be mistaken for hydatids cysts, as children with over-active imaginations may believe.
Offals are usually prepared by finely slicing them, and adding seasonings, perhaps even a reduced sauce of some sort. Lambs fry in our house received no embellishment whatsoever. It wasn’t diced or even pan-fried with the bacon that accompanied it. No siree. A great lump of hot liver was dished up, with some bacon and vegetables.
We also grew up at a time where there were strictly enforced rules of engagement at dinner. These covered such things as the correct placement of cutlery, which direction bowls of vegetables were passed, and that everything place upon one’s plate had to be consumed. “Eat what’s put in front of you”.
Fortunately “death by liver” wasn’t that common. It was consumed fresh, usually for dinner on the same day as its contributing sheep was dispatched. So several times a year was our expected rate of exposure.
Since leaving home at age 17, consuming lambs fry has not been a priority for me. But in recent years I have seen it become increasing common on restaurant menus. Noting this, I wondered how these dishes may compare to those with which I grew up. I deduced that if restaurants served it, then there must be some sort of appetite for it. Today curiosity and bravery overcame me.
The thinly sliced liver had been sufficiently pan-fried with bacon and mushrooms and served with a delightful sherry reduction sauce. It was delicious. Indeed I may even be tempted to order it again. Perhaps today’s experience really is proof that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger?