Throughout my entire time in Britain, one appalling and stunning inconsistency in the understanding of food has persisted to this very day.
Mutton is to Lamb
Beef is to Veal
but the British Food God says,
Thou shalt Scorn Mutton
Thou shalt Savour Lamb
Thou shalt Relish Beef
Thou shalt Abstain from Veal
What are the reasons for this?
The typical reproach is: "You are an evil cruel human if you kill a baby cow to eat Veal"
I am of the understanding that this fashion arose in the early Seventies, and
was driven by animal lovers who all jumped on a bandwagon together, as people
used to do in those days. It was considered inhumane to take a calf from its
mother before it was six months old, or something like that. (I look forward to
getting more accurate information).
The tritely accepted wisdom is: "Oh No, you wouldn't ever want to eat Mutton, it's disgusting. A nice bit of young Lamb is much, much tastier and more tender".
This fashion supposedly arose in the Fifties when Good Housekeeping was the
ambition of any self-respecting housewife. Mutton, previously the ingredient of
flavourful stews in British and Irish culture, was deemed unfit for consumption
by anybody with any class or breeding.
Wait for the irony: Lambs therefore are taken away from their mothers at an age of as I recall, NINE to TWELVE WEEKS!!!! And guess what, this is about FOUR weeks younger than the age at which lambs in New Zealand are slaughtered.
Consequently, in any butcher shop or supermarket in Britain, you can buy only lamb, yet you cannot find mutton. None of this has changed anywhere except where immigrants have settled, where they have been opening their own butcher shops. This has grown fastest in areas with immigrants from Muslim cultures.
I personally used to love eating mutton, (Ginger and Mutton stew in winter, YUMMY!) and have long ago ranted to anyone who would listen, that I want the right to be able to purchase mutton at my local Tesco's or Sainsbury's.
In the ghetto of North Newham, the world has completely turned on its head. Manor Park used to have 18 butcher shops in the Fifties, so I was told by the very last of those butchers, which closed down two years ago at the corner of Romford Road and the Broadway. In their place are a few halal butchers, where you can buy all the mutton you could possibly want, but you won't be able to find bacon, ham, pork sausages, or anything to do with a pig. I like bacon even more than I like mutton, and this hardly seems like an improvement to me.
My neighbours are not so multicultural as I would like them to be. From all 3 sides, the only cooking smells that ever seem to emanate are overpowering GUSTS of mutton. I smell so much mutton nowadays, that I don't even need to eat it.
And guess what, if you're feeling a bit ill from a bug, the stench of mutton really IS disgusting. So it was today, all over my back garden, so I couldn't get away from it. I think I will try burning incense sticks outdoors, if this continues.
My opinion of mutton, you see, has now come full circle. Life really is a Joke, it really is, yessirree.