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May 23, 2006 11:57 AM

Lamb question

  • j

Why is lamb in general far more popular in europe than it is in america. I know people here in the usa that have never even tried it or even seen it!

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  1. no idea...i love is actually my # 1 meat of choice. (in fact i made some fantastic xianjiang lamb skewers the other day) goat is actually my favorite...mexican birria de chivo actually.

    i love the juiciness and strong 'gameyness' of these meats,

    i believe it has to do with two variables

    1) a country's culinary history/tradition/geography

    2) and specifically in europe the mad cow scare. (i lived in berlin for a year and maybe consumed beef twice with my host family. what little i saw in the supermarket for basic cuts cost much more than filet mignon here...needless tyo say i had schweinefleisch overdose there)

    1. My theory is that a lot of people in this country still either grew up before WWII or are the children of those who did - in other words, at a time when what was primarily available was mutton, rather than lamb. I remember having mutton as a child (my maternal grandparents were from Scotland) - it was not delightful, to say the least. Lamb is slowly becoming more popular, at least with the "foodie" element. But it's a smaller animal and yields fewer cuts of meat per animal, so maybe it isn't as cost-effective to raise and market as beef. Like pork, it will probably remain a "second choice" meat.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Akatonbo

        Also, in the US, what passes for lamb is often something that would not be considered optimal elsewhere for either lamb or mutton: it's kinda between them.

        There are actually folks who prefer genuine mutton to lamb, btw: often from the British Isles and France. Genuine mutton is virtually unheard of in the USA, at least in the marketplace. And real baby lamb is often only found at certain times of the year in Italian/Hispanic markets.

        Another thing is that lamb requires more prep because of removing the fell (silverskin) and fat is more essential on lamb (at least the kind we get here) than other cuts of meat. And the choice of cuts commonly available here is very small compared to other meats. When was the last time you saw lamb breast in the market?

        That said, lamb is my favorite red meat.

      2. Good question. Until a couple of years ago, my nieces wouldn't touch lamb in any form. Apparently, they'd been forced by their Lebanese grandmother to eat something they called "lamb meat and eggs" when they visited her and associated all lamb dishes with that one. (I think it was scrambled eggs with ground lamb.) I finally got them turned around because they love my cooking and I made rack of lamb for them. But they still refer to lamb as "lamb meat," which is kind of weird. I mean, I've never heard anyone refer to beef as "cow meat."

        1. Because compared to Europe, beef is both very good and very cheap here. We grew up on beef and thus lamb was both too gamy and expensive for most American tastes.

          1 Reply
          1. re: dinwiddie

            Dinwiddle said what I was going to suggest far more succinctly than I would have...

            Too $$$, too "gamy" even when neither is really true.

            Like everyone else here, Lamb is my favorite red meat.

            BTW- Bob Martinez: LOL!

          2. It was the puppet. After they saw that people decided Lambchop was too cute to eat.