"Lords & Ladles": An Irish History Lesson Featuring Sheep's Testicles
It’s been a real shit show of a week, so last night I took to the couch with the goal of achieving mental oblivion. Netflix suggested I watch something called Lords & Ladles. As it turns out, Lords & Ladles is totally my jam. Thank you Netflix algorithm!
Some reality TV shows play to broad tastes, while others satisfy a very specific niche. From the title alone, you can probably guess that Lords & Ladles falls into the latter category. L&L is an RTÉ program (Raidió Teilifís Éireann, Ireland’s version of the BBC) which is catnip for people who are interested in Irish manor houses, confoundingly complicated, offal-forward recipes, and a good bit of craic.
Here’s Netflix’s description:
Three of Ireland’s top chefs — Derry Clarke, Catherine Fulvio and Paul Flynn — gather at opulent country manors to re-create banquets from the past.
Like I said, it’s not for everyone. But you’re the kind of person who gets off on over-the-top gilded rooms, 17th century cookbooks, or modern chefs trying to grapple with how to make cow eyeball pie palatable (hint: you can’t), I can all but guarantee you’ll love L&L. Plus, there are only six episodes in the season, so it’s perfect for a weekend getaway.
Fair warning, this show isn’t for the faint of heart. Some of the recipes had Paul (the most squeamish of the chefs) threatening to stick his head in the oven on more than one occasion. L&L features nose to tail cooking (and butchery) so expect to see some gruesome shit that includes tripe being harvested straight from a cow’s carcass (intestinal contents and all), an entire hog’s head being shaved and boiled (happens more than once), and at least six pair of sheep testicles being peeled from their scrotum (by my count). It’s all done very responsibly and serves as a pointed reminder to every omnivore exactly what it takes to get that steak (or, as in one episode, ox palate) on your plate.
As an added bonus, the narrator is surprisingly delightful. She’s got jokes. Real low-key like, she interjects herself into the narrative, throwing some very subtle shade at the chefs, and sometimes even at the homeowners. It’s also interesting to watch the descendants of the landed gentry show off these homes - some addressing head-on, and others glossing over, the historic ramifications of the Ascendancy in Ireland.
Watching this “Lords and Ladles” show on Netflix, recreates medieval meals in actual castles for the noble families that still live there; one of said noble ladies just said “there’s nothing better for weaning a baby than caviar and sheep’s brains.” Revolution makes so much sense— Raph Koster (@raphkoster) June 4, 2018
So, if you want to become a vegetarian and just need a wee push, or you’re an armchair history buff, or you just enjoy cooking shows with an added challenge (the chefs are constantly grappling with the never-hot-enough vintage agas), you’re likely to love Lords & Ladles.
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