Monday is not really a day off for me, except that I normally don’t work in the kitchen on that day. Taking a real day off is difficult in the winter, because most of the diversions I would normally want to take occur in the warm outdoors. I’m the type that needs to move away from my normal environment to really relax. I would rather spend the cash to go to the cinema over watching TV or Hulu at home any day. It becomes more of an event that way and therefore I am less distracted.
Last Monday gave me an opportunity to witness a beef slaughter. Why, you may ask, would I choose to do this on my day off? To know me is to know that its difficult to shut my brain down, which is why watching random TV is the most boring thing I know. My nerdiness comes in the form of learning something, anything, it doesn’t matter what. When I come across a show on Discovery Channel on how something is made, its like stink bait to a catfish. I can’t resist. So when one of my local growers told me they were putting a steer down, my response was, “how do I get there?”
I describe the experience as fascinating, sobering and sacred. I will spare any photos or gory details here, but I will add that tremendous care was shown in handling the animal properly. Very clean, very orderly and the work was done swiftly. Dave was patient in fielding my many questions during the entire process.
I use the term sacred for the slaughter because that is the point the human takes ultimate dominion over the beast. He takes the life from it and this is not to be taken lightly. As a chef I am still several steps removed from this point and I wanted to see it with my own eyes. I’ve delivered live animals to the butcher as a kid growing up on the farm, and I’ve seen the carcass hanging in a cold locker, and of course have cooked and eaten my fair share of meat, but the one element I have never seen is the slaughter. I felt I needed to connect some dots.
How’s that for a day off?