Advice for eating well - Get thee a butcher

It is purely by luck that I have managed to befriended two butchers. I'd highly recommend it. Admittedly, when I thought of accomplishments to mark my adulthood, I never would have thought "acquire a butcher" would be on that list.  I do now.

My grandmother is German. I have vivid memories, created on trips to her small home town in the black forest, of treking into town with my Oma. We'd go up the big hill by the church to visit the butcher and the baker.

The smell of an excellent butcher shop is incomparable. It makes one salivate. While Oma shopped, and chatted with the Butcher in rapid-fire German, I'd press my hands against the cool meat case. No doubt I left smudgy palm prints that would need to be wiped away later. But I would pretend, pressing my little hands against the glass that I could feel the squishy brats and weisswursts, the hard rectangular landjagers. It was a dream.

My Oma was very old by this time. Imagine knowing a proprietor until you are well into your 80s. I, having known my butcher-friends for only a few years, am already reaping the benefits of having a master-crafts person, advise me on what cuts of meat to buy. They share directions on how best to prepare a steak having only a cast-iron skillet or how to dress the lamb for Easter having never grilled a rack. The list goes on and on.

And those directions, often scribbled on a scrap of butcher paper, are some of the dearest treasures of my kitchen.


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