Braving Benidorm for our very first time just to call in to the humongous Carrefour hipermarché there yesterday, we had lashed out on a shoulder of cabrito [kid goat] and a supposedly Wagyu steak.
We tried the cabrito yesterday and it was very good.;I’d draw the line short of delicious but it was at least good. For the purposes of comparison, it’s reasonable to think of goat as being most similar to lamb, both in flavour and size/style of animal. For what it’s worth, here’s my thinking about Spanish goat and lamb, which, shall we say, I’ve also found a little lacking. The shoulder blade in our cabrito measured about 4 ins/10 cms. The shoulder blade in an English lamb shoulder joint would be at least twice that length. Our lamb is much larger; it has been allowed to grow for up to a year and is almost adult sized. Spanish lamb/goat is barely a month old, the whole animal weighing 12-14 kgs [~30-35lbs]. It may very well be extremely tender at that point but it hasn’t had a chance to develop any flavour. We have exactly the same problem, albeit to a lesser extent, with our so-called spring lamb, which is also lacking in flavour, IMHO. Let it grow – give it some flavour. Here endeth the first lesson. [Why does my stupid spellwrecker not like “endeth”? Ah, yes, it’ll be American.]
Now we were looking forward to trying our Wagyu steak. It was billed, BTW, as a picanha steak [called tri tip in the U S of A, apparently] and also called the rump cover. It’s a triangular section cut of meat. Ours matched that description. Supposedly, because it is a muscle that moves very little in life, it should be very tender.
Much is made these days of Wagyu beef. It is called the marbled breed because the flesh is so marbled with fine veins of fat that the real thing actually looks very pale pink, quite the opposite to how a well aged piece of beef should traditionally look. Wait a moment, real thing? Yes, there are many cross breeds lurking about, especially in Europe. The same happens with the highly vaunted Aberdeen Angus. ALDI, the cur price German supermarket, for example, sells “Aberdeen Angus” beef burgers, which I’m told are excellent but the small print, carefully worded, says:
… made from beef sired by Aberdeen Angus bulls.
With our piece of Wagyu picanha steak costing a mere 11€, I was quietly confident that this would be from a cross-breed. The real thing would be at least double that and probably more, even at Spanish prices. Whilst being quite well marbled, it was also relatively well coloured. Still, out with the griddle plate and on with our 2nd gastronomic experiment in two days.
Long story short: it was seriously disappointing, verging on the chewy. Verging? No, let’s be honest, it was chewy – not overcooked (for our medium taste, anyway), pink and juicy in the centre but chewy. I will not be bothering again – unless, that is, I can find both the supply and the bank balance to try the pure-bred real thing. Clearly, this picanha steak hadn’t read its job description about not moving much in life. The accompanying salad was very good, though. I confess to being somewhat saddened.
Back to goats. We learned from our Dutch friend, whom we are largely here to see, that The Netherlands breeds quite a few goats. They are bred in the Netherlands to produce goats milk for cheese. In common with all animal husbandry, pinching the milk from lactating female animals means that you have generations of starving, unwanted offspring. There’s no milk to feed them ‘cos you’ve taken it for another purpose. Some of the female young are kept to refresh the dairy herds but all the males and some of the females are surplus to requirements – they go into the meat trade after, as we have heard [see the first lesson] a very short life..
The good people of the Netherlands are not great fans of eating goat, our friend told us. Ah, problem; what are we to do with all these surplus baby goats? Well, the Dutch surplus to requirements kid goats, complete with their Dutch ear tags, are loaded into trucks and transported live to Spain, to Barcelona to be precise, where the Spanish love eating goat. To be more precise once again, they love eating Spanish goat. What they are not terribly keen on is eating Dutch goat. This must be a similar syndrome to the French not liking to eat English lamb. So, once in Barcelona, the Dutch goats’ Dutch ear tags are removed and replaced by Spanish ear tags. The goats are now legally Spanish goats. About half an hour after being magically transformed into Spanish goats, the hapless kid goats are slaughtered and sold as Spanish. Had they been slaughtered in the Netherlands, they would have been Dutch goats but now the Spaniards can rest easy in the knowledge that they are eating Spanish goats.