Monday, October 1, 2012


Subtitle: Vegetarians Need Not Apply

First, though, a brief update on Rosie.  Her bloodwork is almost totally normal.  Next step is to drop off a, erm, “sample” to test for intestinal parasites.  In the meantime, I got very nervous about reports on the internet regarding Dogswell foods, so I’m switching to another brand.  Besides that, she made it through today accident-free, and she’s been energetic and playful this evening.  So, even though we still don’t have an answer, I’m a bit less worried.

On with the Méchoui…

I'm not too fired up about coming to this gathering...
Hover over for a translation…this picture is mostly to protect the unsuspecting from what some may consider a gruesome photo of a spitted whole animal.  Carry on if this doesn’t bother you.

Here is the entirety of what the omniscient Wikipedia has to say about méchoui:
In the cuisine of Northern Africa, méchoui is a whole sheep or a lamb spit-roasted on a barbecue. The word comes from the Arabic word šawa, which means ‘grilled, roasted.’ This dish is very popular in North Africa.
Here’s what I know about méchoui: The Alliance Française of Charlotte hosts a party every fall centered around the consumption of a whole, spit-roasted lamb.  The chef in charge is Chef Charles, a Frenchman who owns a successful catering business, and for whom Miss Chef worked part-time for a few years.  In addition, the couple on whose property the party is usually held are frequent diners at the restaurant where Miss Chef worked until very recently, and so of course they invited Chef Adam to join Team Chef. 

Obviously, it was only a matter of time before Miss Chef got involved, too.  According to her, she had a great time last year, enjoyed getting to know the gracious hosts, and I should really join her next time.

This was her second year “working” the party, and the hosts were happy to extend the invitation to me, also.  So not only did I get to attend, but I got to hang out with the chefs, who are the cool rock stars of the show.

Well, right behind this poor chap:

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Now that I look more closely at this photo, I’m grateful I didn’t have to witness the actual spitting of the sacrificial lamb.

This was the sight greeting us when we arrived mid-afternoon.  I quickly ascertained that, aside from looking quite uncomfortable, the lamb seemed to be wearing the kind of diaper one might expect from Buck Rogers.  Chef Charles informed me the diaper was because the “back pocket” was almost done, and I nodded like I knew exactly what he was talking about.  Which I think I did, maybe.  We do the same thing on our Thanksgiving turkey, to protect the white meat.

This is about how things stood for a couple of hours after we arrived.  Of course, any French-related group will generally include wine, and the chefs had their own potluck going, so there was some sipping, nibbling and general socializing going on.

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Miss Chef ponders which spread to try next, while Chef Adam digs right in.

Every once in a while, someone remembered to check on the lamb.  Here Chef Adam blesses bastes it with a rosemary “broom” dipped in…

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…I’m not sure what.  I neglected to ask what was in the bucket.

By the way, you may notice from the comfy dress that we were blessed with perfect weather.  It was in the low 70s and mostly cloudy, but not a drop of rain.  The days before and after, it rained most of the day, but Sunday was perfectly dry.

Eventually, after only a couple cups of wine (note to self: cups hold much more than traditional wine glasses), there was a general consensus that the lamb was done.  So it was undressed and unspitted, and the chefs made their preparations.  (I have some video to insert here, but YouTube is being a butt.  So here’s a picture of Chef Adam’s knife kit instead.)

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As with any large roast, the meat had to rest for a while before carving got underway.  In the meantime, a grill had been lit for a secondary course for those who don’t like the taste of lamb.

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Finally, the lamb was deemed sufficiently rested, and the carving began.

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From left to right, that’s Chef Adam, his new sous-chef Jorge, a gaggle of hungry French-speakers, and Miss Chef.  Chef Charles wasn’t able to stay for the final event.

Let's see if YouTube will cooperate now...

Before I knew it, the chefs were surrounded by a hungry mob.

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…and some paparazzi.

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NB: I am not paparazzi, I am official documentarian of Miss Chef-related events.

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Last year Chef Charles showed her how to cut the meat from the haunches; this year she and Chef Adam passed that knowledge on to Jorge.

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Chef Adam got the job of breaking down the main part of the carcass…and somehow one of the loins never made it into the pans for the buffet table, but stayed behind on the chefs’ table.  I wonder how he could have committed such an oversight?

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The three-chef crew worked quickly and diligently to get the hot meat into a pan before it cooled.  It was kind of amazing to see how fast an entire animal was broken down into meat and bones.

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You may notice the guests weren't too shy about sneaking a taste test.

And then, suddenly…my pictures come to an end!  Care to guess why?  Yes, because my hands were busy holding a plate with lamb, chicken, couscous, rice and several other side dishes.  Not to mention a smooth, fruity petite syrah in a plastic cup.  In spite of the charred appearance, the lamb was incredibly juicy and tender, and somehow done to just the right temperature.  I guess Chef Charles knows a thing or two about diapering a lamb, eh?

Sadly, it seems that’s about all I can tell you about méchoui at this point.  Of course, I’m hoping to continue my research on the topic next year, and I’ll be sure to fill you in on any further discoveries.  Maybe I’ll even find out what kind of holy water basting sauce was in the green bucket!

And speaking of next year…Miss Chef has garnered an amazing invitation from Chef Charles for next summer, about which we are both very excited.  It’s still fairly indefinite at this point, so I won’t jinx it by spilling the beans yet—but rest assured, if it all comes to fruition, you’ll enjoy reading all about it!

Tease?  Who, me??


  1. First of all, it's good to hear that Rosie was at least seeming to feel more lively. I hope something easy to treat turns up.

    Second of all, I had to avert mine eyes for everything below the cartoon :)

    Third and last, want to REALLY know what was in the bucket? Swamp water. Gives it that special je ne sais quoi flavour :) Just kidding. It was probably several gallons of vino.

    1. First...thank you. I have feeling this won't be an easy one to crack, but at least she's still happy. Second...I didn't have you pegged as a vegetarian. Third....I bet you're on the right track.

    2. A wannabe vegetarian - who is failing. I still enjoy some meats, but I get queasy if it's pink. When I cook, that meat is DONE and I do mean tough :)

  2. Well, that's better news on our Rosie.
    Thanks for the warning, my carnivore friend.

    1. Was it as gruesome as I feared? Or did you just skip it?

  3. Reminds me of the lamb turning on the spit in my Greek friend's backyard! I'll take the poulet svp!

    1. Mmm, yeah, well, I have to say, the lamb was better! :-)

  4. Poor lamb. I think I would have been horrified seeing it on the fire. Egads! Great photos though.

    1. The only thing that bothered me was the vaguely human shape of it, being all charred. Especially with a frickin' diaper on it.

  5. Yee Gods. I know you warned me, but jeez. I am going to need to dip my entire head in a vat of tofu now to get rid of these images.

    1. You Californians...what happened to your midwest farming roots, girl??


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