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I have carried the weight of this around for more than a decade and now I have to clear my conscience. We had been holidaying in the Poitou‑Charentes region of France. We had made the short trip into Saintes for the weekly market. I was feeling ambitious and wanted to prepare a butterflied leg of lamb. I circled the market and located the lamb butcher, having previously tried to buy beef from a boucherie chevaline (horse butcher), causing much mirth for the butcher and embarrassment for me. In my dire French, I conveyed that I wanted the joint boned. With much smiling and what I thought was comprehension, the master craftsman set to work.

I ask the question because I need something to hang this on. My piece of tuna is the shape (and nearly the size) of a baby grand. However, the answer does not lie there. I have been faffing around with this post for over a month now. I have procrastinated, prevaricated and generally beaten about the bush. It is not within me to just cook some food, photograph it and post it. I have to say something. The zing in this thing was the salsa verde. I followed a Jamie Oliver recipe pretty closely and it turned out very well. Then it would, would it not? He is one of the chefs who really is inventive and thoughtful. More than I can say about me and my bush beating. I will fill you in on the piano bit later. 

Bringing up children is a trial as well as a joy. Their lack of worldly experience gives them a razor-sharp clarity that fades with advancing years and is often gone by the time they’re 10. When our youngest was younger, she possessed this clarity and wielded it without mercy. Often in my wisdom, I told both her and her sister “There is no such thing as a stupid question. Only a stupid answer.” Once, in frustration, I responded to yet another “Are we there yet?” from the back seat of the car with “Don’t ask stupid questions.”

When my youngest was a lot younger, she would rarely be direct about anything. If she wanted something out of the ordinary like some new clothes, or something ‘girly’ of which I probably would not approve, she would do something daft like write out a request (along with a smiley face) and slip it under the sitting room door. While she was a little thing and cute, those notes always got the desired result. As she has aged and the ravages of time have started to take their toll (she is 20 now), she trys more subtle methods of influencing me. 

They say that as one gets older, one tends to reminisce about better times in the years gone by. The summers were always sunnier, the fashions more fashionable and the food tastier.

Perhaps when I am at the stage where my last few friends will visit me to wheel my bath chair into the morning sun, I may begin to think this way. But, today, I still have my faculties (if not my follicles) so I know how much better things are now than back then.

Why does Anthony Worrell Thompson stick celery in his and sprinkles it with parsley?

Why does Julia Child crumble bay leaf into hers?

Why does Jamie Oliver needs two bottles of wine?

Why does Nigel Slater use one bottle in his?

Why does the Belfast Telegraph shove a chicken stock cube into theirs?

Why does Gordon F***** Ramsey recommend Irish Soda Bread with it?

Why does James Martin say to have it with mash?

Why does AWT above say to have it with new potatoes?

Why do ‘all recipes dot com’ not use carrots in theirs?

I usually start my posts with a little story. I do this to set the scene and to try to make my recipe posting stand out just a little from the hundreds of thousands of other recipe posts that are published every week on the Interweb. I have enjoyed modest (very modest) success with this approach. This is despite my ignoring best SEO practice and not including the subject in the headline and often drawing on the most tenuous links between subject and object.

We were sitting looking at the view of Scotsman’s Bay in Dun Laoghaire. “Provenance old man.” said L as we enjoyed one of those barely warm, sunny spring mornings.  “Take those apple and sage sausages you enjoy so much. What’s their provenance? You haven’t got a clue, have you?” I had to admit that I had no idea who, how or where they were made. I have faith in my butcher. L is less trusting than I and he chastised me for my naivety. I don’t like having my shortcomings, real or imaginary, exposed. So I resolved to redress the situation by preparing my own range of sausages from scratch. 

Yes, I do have a son. This my come as a surprise to some of you. It would be a surprise for the Wife if I had not come clean on the matter with her. Before I get into that, I’ll bet you know the parable of the prodigal son. I’ll also bet you that you have never referred to somebody as being “prodigal”. You have never rolled down the car window and shouted; “Ohi, You. You Prodigal. Move that heap.” Or perhaps, you ladies, behind a gloved hand, over a double frappachino laté, whispered to a friend; “She is sooooo prodigal. I don’t know how her parents put up with her.” Admit it to yourself. You probably don’t even know the exact meaning of the word.

Am I losing my touch? It was Friday. I had planned the ‘Family Dinner’ that we have pretty well every Sunday. I let the diners know that we would be having Roast Leg of Wicklow Lamb Studded With Garlic and Rosemary, served with a Wine Gravy, Parsnips, Carrots and Potatoes. This is a crowd pleaser. However, things were not to go according to plan. First to drop out was my mother. In fairness, a viral infection having led to a week in bed qualified as a half reasonable excuse. Eldest daughter and boyfriend did a double diss, preferring dinner at his over the magnificence on offer in these parts. The most crushing blow was delivered by youngest daughter, favoring some late teenage party with friends over my culinary exploits. Only the Wife remained loyal, saving me from my feelings of total rejection.

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