Spring, Sprang, Sprung: Lamb is in the Air!

_Easter and lamb go together like Prahok and Aubergine. Where will you be celebrating yours?

In the West, spring is many people’s favourite time of year. After an often long, cold, wet, windy and dark winter, the evenings start to brighten as the days lengthen, the chill factor drops to a gentle warmth — in the middle of the day anyway — delicate white and pink blossoms add a soft-scented decoration to bare tree branches, trees and hedgerows start to fill with birdsong, and everyone starts to feel a little more optimistic about the world. It’s glorious. But one of the biggest markers of spring is the appearance of little balls of white wool gambolling around the fields; it’s lambing season.

Lamb has never really enjoyed the same cachet as beef and we think this is a gross injustice that punishes the judgers not the judged, because lamb is an infinitely more sophisticated meat, and it happens to be healthier too. While beef is known for its heavy, iron-rich flavour, lamb’s gamier flavour manages to be both lighter in one sense, but also more complex, sometimes more robust, and frankly it offers an altogether finer experience.

Lamb’s full flavour comes from the fact that it is slightly fattier than beef (no fat = no flavour = no point in carrying on). However, despite having more fat, and slightly more calories, than beef, lamb is a healthier option because it contains more heart-healthy omega-3s than either grass or grain-fed beef. We will write about the libelling of fat another time. When baked to a golden crisp, lamb fat is one of those things that can rapidly become addictive.

So, with that, one of the best signs that spring is here is finding yourself sitting down to a deliciously light but earthy bowl of Navarin d’Agneau, an emblematic springtime dish that brings together tender lamb and fresh spring vegetables in a deliciously light broth, and manages to be simple and sublime all at once. You’ll find our version of this perennial favourite at Khéma.

On the other hand, if you prefer something with a little more heft and style, you can always enjoy a gorgeous Rack of Lamb, with a savoury potato tart and glazed spring vegetables, or a truly magnificent Baked Lamb Fillet in Puff Pastry at Topaz, two of our favourite dishes and the mark of a true sophisticate and flavour connoisseur.

One of the most important Christian holidays all over the world, Easter will be Celebrated on April 9 this year. Commemorating the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, this feast holds a deep spiritual significance, but is also appreciated for its more secular values too, especially the occasion to get together with friends and family for a beautiful meal which, more often than not, is centred around lamb.

Lamb has symbolic significance as a representation of Jesus Christ, the “Lamb of God” who sacrificed his life for the sins of all. It has over centuries become a symbol of renewal and new beginnings, but also of purity and goodness, and ultimately of course, of sacrifice, an echo of Jesus’s sacrifice of his own life.

But the importance of lamb at this time of year predates even the story of the Resurrection and goes back to the story of the Passover, celebrated every year by Jews all over the world in commemoration of the freeing of the Israelites from slavery in ancient Egypt. Lamb entered the traditional Passover menu thanks to the biblical story found in the book of Exodus, where Jews in Ancient Egypt had to smear lamb’s blood on their doorposts to avoid a plague of God. When early Jews — who celebrated Passover by eating lamb to mark this occasion — converted to Christianity, they took this meal with them to celebrate Easter.

Furthermore, lamb’s availability as an accessible meat after winter months with no livestock to slaughter would also encourage our ancestors to serve up a few lamb legs to celebrate. In France, lamb’s significance can be traced back to the Middle Ages, when it was a luxurious dish saved for the very wealthy.

So if you’re looking to celebrate Easter this year, or simply looking to try something new and delicious, then we can heartily recommend a trip to Khéma or Topaz to try out our beautiful lamb dishes.

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