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In praise of Chef Alex, her lamb and Twitter

April 21, 2014 - Paul Giannamore
Easter Sunday is one of the more hectic kitchen times in our house. In the good old days of youth, I let my mom, and then my wife, do everything while I sat on my behind like a king, waiting for the yummy stuff from the kitchen.

As time has passed I realized that A. The holiday is one about changing your life, meaning I had to toss off the lazy king stuff. B. This meal is a lot of work. So, I help.

It’s been a varied meal over the years, sometimes led by ham, sometimes by lasagne or ravioli, sometimes by a turkey.

The last couple of years, The Boss (At Home) has made this wonderful, spicy lamb roast she discovered on the Food Network. It’s by chef Alex Guarnaschelli, and it’s named, appropriately, Spicy Leg of Lamb. Under the tutelage of The Boss (at Home) and the recipe on her cell phone's screen, I prepared the spice mixture and rubbed it all over the roast.

It is spicy. I have harbored visions of bedouins eating this roast in their tents in the desert (did I mention I watch way too much Anthony Bourdain?). People who say they hate lamb because of the taste might find this recipe does the trick of taking away the "lamby" flavor and replacing it with something just awesome. An amusement park of flavors for your tongue.

After dinner, as we basked in the glow caused by the combination of cayenne, red pepper flakes, jalapenos and other spices (did I mention it’s spicy?), a question arose, well, in my head anyway.

How did a lady with such a nice Italian last name come up with such an obviously, in my head anyway, Middle Eastern dish?

In the good old days, the question would go unanswered, a mystery ranking right up there with Jimmy Hoffa’s disappearance or the fate of Flight 370. Every Easter hence we would eat Chef Alex’s wonderful lamb and I'd speculate about its origin.

But the advent of social media means there’s always a chance of settling such a question by just asking the celebrity directly.

Chef Alex interacts readily and easily with folks on Twitter (yes, years ago I hated Twitter and referred to its users as Twits, but now, so am I, apparently). During the final weeks of "Breaking Bad" the dear chef was all over Twitter, interacting with the show's fans, yours truly included, as just another fan herself.

I figured it was worth a shot with a tweet, and so, while still glowing from the spicy lamb, I tweeted her. I couldn’t adequately capture how important, how tasty, how much our family loves her lamb recipe that it’s arisen to the level of Easter tradition on our table in two short years, but I tried in all of 140 characters. And I said thanks for the wonderful recipe.

And shortly after, on her Easter Sunday, when I’m sure she has better stuff to do, Chef Alex tweeted back, “France. Thanks.”

In a weekend filled with good food, the time spent with family, the awesome performance of our church choir and our incomparable director/organist, that little tweet ranked right up there in making the holiday complete.

See? Technology and its ilk isn’t all bad. It’s all in how we use it, for good or evil.

For treating her fans as if we matter, I count Chef Alex among the good. Right up there with her recipes.


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