I thought it was humorous that six strangers sit down together in a diner banquet at a remote inn on the outskirts of Anchorage Alaska and five of them had photographs of pigs on their smart phones.
April 16, 2012
It took two of us to lift the carcass off the hook and lay on the table. The fresh scent of it hung in the air of the butcher shop despite the wall-to-wall antiseptic wash from the night before. We tested the blades of our knives. Stephan Silva, an adroit chef with a fondness for quality ran his thumb over a blade of laminated VG-10 “super steel”. Jason Jillson, originally Stephan’s chef de cuisine but recently turned free agent in the culinary theater of San Francisco casually opened his tool kit to select a well-used boning knife.
Ruby Duke from Raven and Boar Farm in New York ran a critical eye over the meat on the table and compared the slaughter marks to her own work. It was obvious even to me that the meat had been roughly handled. The head had been lopped off with the entire jowl attached. The knife thrust to the jugular, a bit too enthusiastic, had ruined some of the Boston Butt. Someone explained that in these parts prisoners of the local Federal penitentiary slaughter the pigs in a work program. I wasn’t sure how to feel about that. Couldn’t we teach them knitting?
Ruby was running on just a few hours sleep after flying thousands of miles to the territory of Alaska to spend a week with four men in a butcher shop. She called it a vacation. I was in the company of some high functioning foodies. We had come from the far corners of the empire to participate in a six-day workshop on the craft of cutting and preparing cured pork products. Italians call it Salumi, the French, Charcuterie.