The meaty end of the bone

This weekend we’re heading into the Alps for the first time to visit Mikes girlfriend Laura. It will be good to get a change of scenery and finally get to explore the jagged backdrop that surrounds our lives down here in the valley. Meat class is going OK. The two students in our meat course who have a few years of butchering experience under their belts are right up there with the teachers hogging all the action. It seems that people who are into cutting up dead animals are REALLY into cutting up dead animals and have a hard time sharing the fun. They get this glazed over, drooling-from-the-corner-of-their-mouth look on their faces like a dog protectively gnawing on a hambone, that really makes me think twice about approaching them for a piece of the action. With hands like bear paws, gripping knives of unspeakable sharpness, you’d be apt to just stand back and watch at a safe distance too. We’ve had a few successful batches of salami, cotechini, and sausage and a few that turned out smelling like year- old, unwashed, gym shorts meets an egg factory dumpster-diver.

The good news is that we’ve seen the last of the Health and Safety professor how didn’t really breath so much as inhale Italian and exhale a Piedmontese dialect at the exact same, or greater, velocity of an FDV-approved, 5 kilo fire extinguisher. Also my Italian has gotten good enough so that I feel comfortable asking questions in class. Unfortunately, even though EVERY SINGLE other student seems to understand exactly what i’m asking, the professor cannot, or will not, acknowledge my questions directly and continues to defer to my classmates who repeat to him everything that i’ve said with the proper tonal inflections. The subtleties of some of the lessons and techniques in lab are still lost in translation, but I continue to tell myself I’ll figure it all out some how, thus reinforcing my notion that paying $10,000 for the American version of this crash course in butchery still isn’t worth the money.

For now it’s back to the kitchen where Salvatore is cooking up a dinner of wild rabbit (lepra) and polenta.


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