I didn’t start this blog as a ranting platform, it’s just that sometimes I have a need to vent and this is as easy a place as any. I know that I’m old before my time, and that I’m fast becoming a grumpy old man. The reason? Well a visit to a local butchers shop today left me having a mini 10 minute rant (with myself) as I drove off to a meeting. I’d stopped to do some banking, pop to the post office and grab a sandwich for lunch. I’d spotted a new butchers shop a few weeks back and although curiosity had drawn me in previously (ok, I was snooping), I hadn’t actually bought anything. As they had a hot counter I thought to myself; why not, let’s grab a sandwich. As I waited patiently for the luke warm offering I was eavesdropping on the conversation behind me, it went something like this…
Customer: Do you have any ribs?
Butcher (though I use this in its loosest form possible): We have belly pork.
Customer: Are those ribs?
Butcher: Ummm… I could slice them for you to make belly pork slices.
Customer: But are they ribs?
Butcher: [As he picks up a skin-on, unboned belly joint] Ummmm… erh… yeah.
Customer: I’ve got a recipe for ribs. How do I cook it?
Butcher: Roast it, and you’ll have nice crackling.
Customer: Is there usually crackling with ribs?
Butcher: I can cut the skin off for you?
She went on to ask for duck, by that point I was headed out the door, if I’d have stayed any longer I’d have slipped her my card and told her where to go for a selection of properly cut ribs, or worse, I’d have climbed the counter and taught him to sheet bone.
What’s happened to the butchers shops of my youth? We had three in our village (only one remains). They were beautiful white tiled palaces, always a little damp and cold, but clean with sawdust covered floors. They’d have green plastic fake grass (?) filled display cases and the butchers would be jolly, rosy cheeked fellas who called every woman ‘luv’ regardless of their age. On the subject of meat, they’d have encyclopaedic knowledge of every carcass that had passed through their door – they might have tried the odd ‘upselling’ tactic but they knew their clod from their brisket and their ribs from their loins.
Then again, back then, it was just fields around here. Kids played tidy in the street and you could get a good night out, a belly full of beer and a fish supper and still have change from a shilling.