Monday, October 26, 2009

D.I.Y. Butchering Classes

You could see this one coming a mile away. Butchery is the new black in foodie circles, so we were bound to see articles like this:
With classmates looking on, Jake hunkered over a 120-pound castrated pig with a .22-caliber rifle pointed at its skull and, coaxed by Mr. King, pulled the trigger.

They severed the animal’s arteries, burned off hair, peeled back skin, and, elbows deep in entrails, carved through bones with a fine-tooth saw.

The experience did not whet the appetite. “When it first dies, you touch it and it’s warm,” recalled Christian, who said he lives in a largely meat-free home. “You hesitate.”

I sort of instinctively recoil from the idea of Williamsburg hipsters heading off to a pig butchering class to add an anecdote to go with their trucker hat and PBR... but it seems a worthy goal to get a true connection to the food you're eating. The truly hard core, it seems, take an eight-week apprentice program with master butchers at Fleisher’s for a mere 10K. Though I think the full-on slaughtering experience is not nearly as common as a class where you "merely" butcher a whole prepared animal (.i.e. no blood and guts - but, still, you're slicing up a animal with a face).

Much like urban chicken farming, I'm not sure how much staying power this has... and whether it's ever going to be more than a yuppie fad... but that people are even thinking about it seems like a huge improvement in our food culture. If you're a vegan or vegetarian you might take heart from the fact that the people who actually engaged in the slaughtering seem... well.. scarred by it. None of the people quoted appear to be backing down from meat eating, but you have to think that people who say "the faint smell reminded me of being covered all over my arms in this animal’s death"... might think twice before ordering the pork chops. Maybe not, but I suppose it's certainly admirable that they're not pushing off the "morally difficult and really gross" parts on anybody else.

I'll say right now: I don't think I could do it.