One thing is for certain: if you sign up for a pig butchering demonstration, you should not wait til the last minute to decide what you are wearing. Because you will be all relaxed and enjoying a sunny Sunday afternoon and suddenly you realize that the babysitter is on her way and you need to get dressed, but have no idea what type of outfit best befits a butchering.
I decided to go with something I would wear on any night out, regardless of whether or not I was planning on watching someone saw a pig’s hock off.
That proved to be a problematic decision, at best, because, wait! I don’t go out. I put on my pajamas around 8 p.m. and find Rosie re-runs on my DVR. I don’t think I can wear Jeff’s Canyon High School t-shirt with my frayed (and see-through Anthropologie pj pants (see-through because I bought them in 2001 and they are fat pants disguised as soft cotton pedal-pushers that I wear almost every night, not see-through because they are sexy)) lounge jammies.
Once I grasped the idea that I could not wear what passes for lingerie in my house, I surrended to jeans and a white top. If I was going to get a bovine’s blood on my shirt, I wanted it to be noticeable; I wanted it to make a statement. “Besmirch by BCBG shirt,” I dared the pig we saw splayed out on the table when we walked into the butcher store.
I won’t lie. It was intimidating. I could see what I thought was a vital organ hanging from the ribs (kidney, apparently) and the hooves were just laying there all attached and foot-like. I gave myself permission to excuse myself to go sob in the bathroom if need be, but it turns out that learning about how butchering is done (it’s a craft) was both educational and extremely fascinating. I didn’t have to go to the bathroom to retch or sob; I was uncomfortable thinking about both our pig’s fate and the fate of thousands of animals who are slaughtered by big agri-business operations all the time. I could have done without watching the butcher hit an artery full of blood or without the story about how much the pig trusted the farmer who inevitably led our pig to the butcher block for slaughter.
But beyond that, I think it was important for me to think through the issues and ethics of eating meat, because I will most likely always be a meat eater. I reserve the right to go all-in as a vegan, but I don’t see that in the near future, given my twice-daily cheese snack and my adoration of all things cream-based. In the meantime, I love supporting a local business that sees its mission as both supporting local farms and educating the eating public about how food makes the journey from pasture to my cast-iron pan.
So, if you are in the market for some fun with your partner that has NOTHING to do with being a parent or getting into a pre-school or whose turn it is to do the f*cking dishes, I highly recommend an evening at the Butcher and Larder in Wicker Park http://thebutcherandlarder.com/ . It’s educational, slightly nauseating and good for the soul– like math class without all the pesky numbers.
Here are some snaps from our time on the butcher block: