Home Butchery Carving a New Niche

Home Butchery Carving a New Niche

Food & Drink

Home Butchery Carving a New Niche

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By Cari Martens

If your neighbor answers the door wearing a blood-stained apron with meat cleaver in hand, you may not need to rush home to call 911. He may just be one of those who are participating in a new culinary trend: Do-it-yourself butchering.

For many American consumers, there is a growing desire to be more in touch with the foods we eat, and how it gets to our plates. Some of these folks are now attending lessons on how to cut up animals at specialty shops such as the Meat Hook in Brooklyn, N.Y., as reported by Josh Ozersky writing for TIME magazine.

Another New York area shop, Fleisher’s, offers one-week introductory butchering classes four times a year, priced at $2,000 each. On the other coast, Taylor’s, in Sacramento, Calif., offers three-hour butchering demos taught by Danny Johnson, and a ‘light lunch’ is included as part of the presentation.

Author and blogger Julie Powell, who made her mark with Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously, published a sort of sequel last year, Cleaving: A Story of Marriage, Meat, and Obsession, about her experiences taking up home butchery. That book undoubtedly brought new blood into the U.S. butchering trade and gave added momentum to the trend.

As Ozersky writes, home butchering has a decidedly macho element that appeals to today’s emasculated males. ‘Henpecked hubbies and coddled urbanites are the ideal recruits for home butchery,’ Ozersky opines. ‘Seemingly any milquetoast can become Grizzly Adams with a single blow of his cleaver.’

But home butchery is certainly not for everyone. Are you ready to cart a dead animal into your home? What will your young children think when you raise your cleaver above a spring lamb or little piglet? And then there’s the equipment. You’ll need a boning knife, a hacksaw, a meat hook, as well as that heavy cleaver. There’s plenty of heavy lifting involved, too, not to mention the cleanup. It’s not quite the same as taking up stamp collecting or needlepoint.

This trend will be interesting to watch—as long as it’s from a safe distance.

Click here to view TIME magazine video “Home Butchering 101”

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