Sunday, November 1, 2009

Week 10: Butchery

I regret to inform that my meticulous documentation of my time at cooking school, all the learning thru the various modules has been disrupted by an unforeseen, unfortunate circumstance. Last week while I was busy, in the midst of one of my usual action packed day in the Regency kitchens my house all the way over in Glenunga was being robbed. The result of which cost me my trusty pink Dell laptop, USB internet modem and handy-fits-everything red croc Guess bag, needless to say it has left me emotionally and mentally drained, officially unplugged, unhooked, cut off, severed from any, correction ALL ties to the outside world. There has never been such a defining moment as there is now for me at this juncture in my life – where the adage “you don’t know what you got till it’s gone” has resounded with intense impact and truth.

Losing my computer has made me feel naked. Suddenly estranged from the world I am without a portal to the outer universe. Be it email, facebook, sykpe, I am without the tools that I require to express myself – Microsoft office with all its wonderful programs is something I have grown up with and taken for granted, belonging to Gen Y. All evidence of my last 1.5 years in Australia has disintegrated into thin air, my pictures, my thoughts jotted on word docs, my past assignments in all their many glorious versions, my recipes – disappeared forever. Without a backup I am lost and feel cheated. The worst part though is learning how to live without this magic gadget – the laptop – that I have come to take for granted. My pink Dell saw me thru happy times, sad times, times of leisure, times of marathon research findings and of course it saw my thru the completion of my Masters thesis. I never even got to say goodbye to my old friend – so now I take this opportunity to bid him farewell. As for me and my continual state of dispair and disconnect – I continue to work on a long term soluation. Since I relied on it for writing and uploading my pictures and all blog content, it is my blog that is ultimately going to suffer. For now I post from Uni Adelaide. But it is all too cumbersome!

What is most upsetting is that the butchery module is what I had been looking forward to since the start of the course. So when week 10 rolled around and it was time to take out the fillet knife and sharpen it up, learn how to use a saw to hack through brittle, thick beef, pork and lamb bone I had my camera on video mode ready to document the ground-breaking information I was about to witness. After a week of careful documentation of breaking down whole carcasses including a side of lamb, an argentine of beef, a forequarter of pork and a whole rabbit into primary, secondary and restaurant cuts I had the privilege of learning everything from anatomy to where and how to find the most tender cuts, how to utilise and make the most of cheaper, tougher cuts and most importantly to be able to recognise meat in all its glorious forms and decipher butcher scams like disguising the silverside eye fillet as tenderloin fillet for example!

While I have no pictures to entice you with and no proof that I did in fact spend a week butchering animals into respectable restaurant cuts, I can say this – getting in touch with the beast in its entirety is a beautiful thing and is a must for any gourmand that enjoys a good chateaubriand, pork chop or crown of rabbit. Today we are so far removed from where our meat comes from that most people are disgusted, shocked and turned off when they find that mince meat actually comes from a shin of an animal for example. There is a missing understanding and appreciation for meat and the animal by and large today which is really unfortunate.

So what did I ultimately learn? To be a first class butcher – No Way. Chef’s are not butchers and do not pretend to posess those skills. The butchery component is a part of the course because knowing your meat, the cuts, being able to identify and deal with it to the best of your abilities improves innovation, as well as cuts down wastage. This makes it an economical and is why butchery in its basic form must be part of any ‘real’ chef’s repertoire. So while we cut racks of lamb from the ribloin and Frenched them, (and with all that manual sawing they were far, far from anything respectable - far from industry standards) it was not that learning those skill is what is expected by chefs, but rather that chefs are able to know what to look for and what they can demand/ request from butchers. In order for innovation in any field – one must know the produce dealt with inside-out. Without this information you and your work will ultimately suffer. Stay tuned as coming up in the following week is pastries, and this will be in full on vivid colour with glossy pictures.


Shantanu said...

Sorry to hear about the stolen laptop. We forget how much of our memories and important stuff we put on these devices until they fail or get lost. When you buy the next one, get yourself a way to backup your stuff.

Nice pics. Halloween time...a chainsaw would have been even better. :)

MEGalomaniac said...

Tell me about it! Am still struggling without it. Will be looking at getting a new one in about a month when I am back in India (electronics are ridic exp here down under)!

Anonymous said...

gross! poor animals have to go through so much suffering to satisfy our sinful tastebuds!