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Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Aye, there's the rub

Food is a funny thing. One person's run-of-the-mill staple is another's gourmet delicacy. When I'm in France, I pretty much eat everything in sight. Food genuinely seems to taste better and there are many things you just can't get in the States. I think my wife's French relatives find this pretty amusing. On more than one occasion, they've pointed at something I'm ooh-ing and ah-ing over and ask with a certain amount of disbelief, "You really can't get this at home?"

So when I cook over there, I try to make things that, for them, are a bit out of the ordinary. Last year, I made a grilled butterflied leg of lamb. I asked my wife's aunt to order a boneless leg of lamb from her good friend the butcher. This caused a whole stir. "How can he cook a leg of lamb like that? It's not flat!" I explained how you butterfly the leg of lamb and my aunt-in-law agreed to order the lamb albeit with a dubious expression that was so...French.

But the real kicker here was that I decided to use a spice rub. This is a risky proposition in France. The French palate tends to be a bit more delicate than the American so you have to be careful with the spices. I had brought along my favorite Lysander's Rub, which I used on the lamb. They loved it. This year, I brought some more rub and made the grilled lamb twice. Now that I've gotten the hang of the grill, it was even better than last year's!

That one packet of Lysander's Rub made it to the other family house where they also loved it. They then found something called "Barbeque Rub" in the local supermarket but had to admit that it didn't compare. It had numerous artificial ingredients and tasted like "badly flavored potato chips" according to cousin Anne.

The bar keeps getting higher. I'm not sure what I'm going to do next summer...

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