Going whole hog: Foodies learn the art of butchery
July 23, 2010
SAN FRANCISCO – Get out your knives and prepare to get blood on your clothes: More Americans are learning how to butcher their own meat.
Cooking enthusiasts and eco-conscious food lovers are signing up for classes where they learn how to carve up whole hogs, lambs and other farm animals, the latest trend among foodies who want a closer connection to the meaty morsels on their forks.
On a recent evening in San Francisco, a dozen men and women met at a rental kitchen in the Mission District to break down a 170-pound hog under the guidance of Ryan Farr, one of a new breed of “artisan butchers” who is bringing the art of butchery to the meat-loving masses.
After Farr and his assistant plunked the slaughtered pig on a sprawling stainless steel table, the students – wearing white aprons and brandishing cleavers, saws and hatchets – took turns cutting up the carcass.
They sawed through flesh, chopped through bones and sliced off tendons until the animal was reduced to hundreds of individual cuts of meat.
“I like the part when you cut the head and you see what’s inside. You discover pieces here and there that you didn’t expect,” said Alex Castellarnau, a designer in San Francisco. “It’s very crafty. I had a lot of fun using the different tools.”
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The growing interest in butchery comes as more consumers become conscious of how the food they eat affects their health and the planet, inspired by books such as Michael Pollan’s bestseller, “The Omnivore’s Dilemma.” The demand for healthy, sustainably produced foods is driving more people to shop at their local farmers market and even raise chickens in their back yards.