Dulltown’s butcher is one of those proper old-fashioned butchers who stand cheerily behind a counter in a blood-stained apron, waving a cleaver about and dispensing banter and local chit-chat along with the venison and chump chops.
I figured he wouldn’t be short of opinions as to what I should have for my dinner and how I should cook it. In the event, it transpired it was his day off and his understudy, though probably very good at decapitating rabbits and disembowelling cows, didn’t have quite the same degree of imaginativeness as his boss.
“What,” I asked, “would be nice to have for lunch on Sunday?”
He looked at me a bit odd and said most people opted for roast pork, beef or lamb. When pressed as to which of these options would be his particular recommendation, he admitted that a shoulder of lamb would be nice.
And how would I cook it, I pursued?
He obviously thought I was one of those half-wits who don’t know how to boil an egg, but since a queue was starting to form, he felt he ought to come up with something to get rid of me, so he suggested smothering the lamb in rosemary, garlic and rock salt, and roasting it on a very low heat for several hours.
Ooh, I said, that sounds nice – and maybe I could pop the potatoes and other veg underneath the meat, so they’d roast in the slow-seeping juices? Yes, he admitted, I could do that if I wanted to.
What we’d come up with between us wasn’t the most exciting of lamb-based ideas – I mean, you don’t have to be a Michelin-starred chef to throw some herbs on top of a bit of meat – but it would do.
I’d started to wonder if the dullness of living in Dulltown had rubbed off on the butcher and he must have realised he’d failed to excite, as he showed a sudden glimpse of a more exciting personality by adding an afterthought of his own accord. The meal would be even more lovely, he said, if, after I’d bunged it in the oven, I were to slope off to the pub for three hours and have a few beers. That’s what he does, apparently, and it makes for an even more delicious Sunday lunch.
Garlic: Simon Howden, http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=404″>