Sunday, May 22, 2011


Lucid [adj] (loo sihd)
  1. Clear, intelligible, and easily understood

Does a lamb shank make a good souvenir?

I suppose if one addresses this question in a simple and lucid manner, the answer would likely nest in the negative.  "No, my uncouth friend," One would begin, resting behind a large gilded desk with one's fingers tented. "A lamb shank does not an acceptable souvenir make." 

And this, dear friends, is where I grow concerned, as a lamb shank was one of the first souvenir ideas I had after learning I would be heading to Ireland, the land of (some of) my forebears.

I am of the camp that declares edible gifts to be some of the best gifts to receive.  Food from exotic lands is exciting - it's new, it's culturally significant, it's not FDA approved!  A slice of packaged turtle jelly, a hunk of freeze-dried poutine, or a bundle of seaweed "rice cakes" all say so much about the place they were sold and the people who by it.  I've never been so excited as when someone brought me Pocky sticks from Japan - well, except maybe that time I was brought Vietnamese coconut candy or those Mexican sugar skulls.  The excitement stems from the idea that you're partaking in a small, but significant piece of another world.  After all,  food is culture, culture is food.

Turtle Jelly. China 2009
This week, I'm preparing to depart for Ireland by adding footnotes to my packing list ("...what's missing here? Headphones? Nope. Toothbrush? Nah. Maybe - oh, SOCKS!"), agonizing over my ticket (Me trying to call the travel agency: "No, seriously, where is my ticket?  What about my confirmation number?  THERE'S NO NUMBER HERE!!! FOR THE LOVE OF PETE...oh, sorry, ma'am, wrong number.") and, being a somewhat crazed individual, calculating my souvenir list.  This list is currently chock-full of food - most of which I cannot begin to know, A) If I can find, B) If I can bring back, and C) If it would survive the trip.  And yet, here I am, homing in on finding Cadbury chocolates, rashers (AKA Irish bacon), and Marmite. Oh, and a lamb.  A lamb would be nice. (Mr. Norton - the lamb's name - could masquerade as a guide dog, no?)

Of course, I have a foodie list for my culinary delights while I'm in country, too.  Irish stew, Shepard's pie, fish and chips, baggers and mash, freshly steamed mussels, boxty, and even black pudding make the list.  With so many interesting gastronomic options before me, it seems almost rude to not offer a sliver of this experience to those at home.

So, does a lamb shank make a good souvenir?  Yes.  Yes, I do believe it does.

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