Friday, November 28, 2008
From Road to Kitchen to Stable
This morning after a 2.5 hour drive from New York and following a fine day at my parent's house to celebrate Thanksgiving, I roll in to the farm to find that the two days prior to 27 November had been so busy that we were nearly wiped out of all the stuff that I am responsible for making for retail sale. So, delighted, I jump in and immediately begin breaking down the last of the three sides of veal that are hanging in the meat locker. (See above) There was some brown veal stock to reduce to demi-glace, turkeys to bone for sausage, pancetta to cut and package, ripe salami to cut down from the drying room for packaging and I'm working alone and rocking so hard that at 2 o'clock when I see Alex (who comes when he's off from school to hang out with his father, our chief farm hand ) run in to the kitchen and grab some paper towels, I almost don't understand that a calf is about to be born.
I drop the boning knife I'm using to take apart a side of veal, grab my camera and hustle out to the barn and shoot these pictures (below) of the birth of a Ayrshire dairy calf.
I'm sure that most of my readers will understand how bewitching something like this is to someone who has made a career from , in large part, cooking animals. I was never comfortable cooking, serving or eating meat in the absence of having direct knowledge of all aspects of the food web. I always felt that unless I had the guts to interact with the creatures that I used for food before they became food, I was a fraud. Certainly it is cowardly for me to cook meat if I cannot work up the courage to know and butcher animals.
Of course, that's a standard that I only apply to myself.
I will not say that everyone who eats meat is a coward if they cannot butcher and cook an animal with whom they have had a personal relationship. (For the record: the female calf you see being born will probably not end up in my kitchen, but one of the bull calves at the end on the slideshow probably will.) But I will say this.
If you eat meat and the sweet, life-affirming pictures you see here make you seriously unhappy about preying on animals, you might consider giving serious thought to either becoming vegan or spending some time doing what I'm doing. Veganism is noble (vegetarianism, not so much) and so is -I believe- what Trent, and I am trying to do: face up to the reality of the consequences of appetite.
Think about it. Who wants to be one of those people who eats meat but says things like "Oh, if I had to kill an animal and cut it up, I'd probably become a vegetarian?"
I know that I don't.