I grew up eating goat. In my house, it was always prepared the same way: as Chanfana, a stew made from chunks of mature goat, red wine, bacon, garlic, bay and lemon, slowly braised for the better part of a day in a low oven.
In central Portugal, there is an age-old war raging between two villages over the claim to the origins of the dish. Chanfana is so venerated in this region, that the markets are filled with black earthenware cooking vessels, known as cacoilos, that are used exclusively for it's preparation. The religious fervor surrounding the dish culminated in the formation of a 'Chanfana Brotherhood'.
Goat was not a meat that I looked forward to eating. Fortunately, the distinct scent of it wafting through the house heralded its appearance at the table and bought me ample time to come up with an excuse to get out of eating dinner.
I watched Iron Chef: Battle Goat with interest, and came away inspired by the diverse and creative preparations that Bobby Flay and Jose Andres presented in the episode. It was with this renewed interest that I purchased a loin of cabrito, or young goat.
It's funny that as a child, I never imagined that I would willingly cook goat for myself, but the scent of it wafting through my own kitchen transported me back to the days of Chanfana, faster than a time machine, but did not fill me with dread. Instead, it made me grateful to my mother, who lovingly prepared this dish as a reminder of her culinary heredity, and in doing so, provided me with sensory triggers to my own.