DC, I love your signature
Killing - Page 3
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Long, long ago, in a galaxy far, far away, while I was in a meat fabrication class, a student fainted suddenly when a chef instructor casually snapped a pork spine in two once all the ribs and loin/chain had been removed so it would fit in the garbage. Chef sent us all on break, and when we came back, he talked a little about how, as culinary professionals, it is imperative that we all recognize the fact that the meat we prepare and eat was once a living being. He stressed that he would not tolerate any foolishness or goofing off on our part when it came to fabrication. "No dancing chickens. No talking fish. No pulsating primal cuts." We were to respect the fact that each and every piece of meat we worked with came from a "creature which gave its life" for our sustenance.
I talked with my fellow student who fainted after class that day over a couple of beers. As it turns out, she was a strict vegetarian for most of her life and; although she had no trouble adjusting to eating meat in order to learn the trade, she had never been so bluntly confronted with the whole visual of a primal cut right in front of her, and the sound of bone and flesh snapping was simply too much of a jolt all at once.
I was a vegetarian for some time as well, though not because I objected to the practice of eating animals in general. My decision was the result of a combination of lesser factors: I found it to be healthier for myself at the time, for environmental reasons, because I wanted to see what it was like for a sustained amount of time (to perhaps gain some personal insight as to what vegetarians really want to eat), and then for a while longer simply because I had developed the habit. In any case, I figured that our shared vegetarian past allotted me some possible philosophical insight for the situation with respect to her.
My first suggestion was to imagine a fruit or veggie doing whatever it was that the meat was doing. If it was a snapping sound, imagine a carrot or piece of celery snapping. If it was removing silverskin, tendons, or bloodvein, imagine breaking down an avocado or pineapple or some such. Later on, she said to me that it helped tremendously in getting over the sensory hurdle.
I also made a point out of something I thought about during Chef's talk. While I considered what our instructor had said to be thoughtful, and while I appreciated his professionalism, I also thought it was important to recognize the fact that the animals we consume have no say whatsoever in whether or not they live or die. They are destined from birth to die (if not prematurely) by our hand. Animals raised for consumption do not willingly give anything for our sustenance. We take their life for sustenance. It is a fact of life in a food chain; and for myself, it is all the more reason to hold meat in high regard.
While actually killing an animal may be difficult, I sincerely believe that it will also provide a person an opportunity to more fully understand and appreciate where it is that our food comes from. It can help one to become a better chef and more attuned person in the long run.