In the summer of 2003, the day after I had my first daughter, I went to work at the Smithfields Meat Cutter in Smithfield, Illinois, where I was working for the day as a delivery driver.
It was a small, white-haired woman with short, wavy hair, a tattoo of a turkey on her right arm, and a tattoo on her left leg of a skull.
The sign on the front of the machine read: Smithfield Slaughterhouse.
It had the same name as the meat I’d been preparing.
The meat was just that: a turkey leg.
She’d worked for the slaughterhouse since 1992.
She had a few years experience as a meat cutter and had been at the butcher shop for a year.
But for a change, she’d been here for only four months.
I asked her if she’d had a chance to eat the meat.
“I’ve had a lot of meat before,” she said.
“We do that with all of our cuts.”
She was right: I had been to Smithfield before, and while I hadn’t gotten to see the cut, I knew what I’d seen: the cuts of a butcher were more precise, and the meat tasted more delicious.
The cut I’d eaten was a turkey cut.
I’d always wondered about that.
Why does the butcher put the cut in the back of a meat carton, and why doesn’t he put it in the front?
What is a butcher?
I was curious about all of that, so I asked the woman if she could explain.
“The butcher makes a cut,” she told me.
“That’s why he does it.”
I was surprised by the answer.
For a butcher, meat cuts are the work of many hands.
There’s no machine to handle the meat, and it’s often cut from the back to the front and back again.
When the cuts are done, they’re wrapped in foil and packed up in bags.
At the end of the day, the meat comes out a little different than when it was purchased, and I had to make sure the cut wasn’t going to get contaminated with other meat or bacteria.
I had no idea how to properly clean the meat before it was packaged.
But I knew I wanted to try it, so when I found a cut of meat I liked, I opened the bag and let the meat cool.
I didn’t want to eat it right away.
I thought I’d eat it later, or even store it in a jar or box and come back to it later.
So I took the cut and put it into a plastic wrap.
The butcher had left the foil inside the cut; the meat was still inside the wrapper, so the foil had no way of catching anything that could be harmful.
The cuts were just meat.
After I took it out of the wrapper and wrapped it in plastic, I put it inside a plastic bag.
I put my daughter in the car with me and drove home, hoping that by then, I’d be able to get to the butcher.
It’s been a few weeks since I’ve driven anywhere without my daughter.
As we were leaving the city, a young woman driving the other car stopped and said, “Do you know where we can find the butcher?”
I said, No.
She said, Why?
I said because I want to know if I should just keep it.
Now, as we drive home, I tell my daughter, “I’m not a butcher.
I’m a meat processor.
The woman behind the counter is a meat producer.
She makes meat.
“That’s what I want for my daughter: a butcher who makes a butcher’s cut of my meat.
It makes sense to me now that she would be the first person I want my daughter to visit.
My daughter and I have been to a few butcher shops in the Chicago area, but it’s rare for us to be able walk into a butcher shop and have a good, close look at what they’re doing.
The first time I went in, the butcher was a man, and he looked like a butcher at first.
But as he spoke, I could see his face.
It took a while for me to realize that he was a person.
It seemed like he was trying to explain himself.
Then he pointed at me, and said: So I’m making you meat for me, but I’m not making you a butcher.” “
And meat for you,” I said.
Then he pointed at me, and said: So I’m making you meat for me, but I’m not making you a butcher.
“The way I see it, a butcher is a person who makes cuts, and his job is to make cuts for you.
But that’s not the whole story.
Meat is a commodity, too.
A butcher is responsible for getting the cut right, and then taking it to the proper person, who cuts it for you, and, ultimately, you make the meat for yourself.