I’ll be honest, when the editor suggested that I – as the only vegetarian in the office – went to learn about butchery, I was somewhat apprehensive.
I stopped eating meat 10 years ago, and have not so much as touched a raw chop or an uncooked sausage since then.
The idea of spending a morning at Boston Sausage hacking at a piece of pig did not fill me with joy. Still, I thought I might learn a thing or two.
I arrived at the High Street store to be presented with a very flattering white coat and apron, which meant I looked the part, regardless of whether or not I managed to successfully do anything.
The manager, Scott Palmer, then presented me with a pork loin to make into chops.
I had to slice through the skin and the meat and then use a cleaver to hack through the bone.
I felt like I was killing Babe.
Scott said I did fairly well, despite the fact I didn’t manage to get through the bone even once. I think squeamishness hit a little at that point. The scared look Scott was giving me as I wielded the cleaver didn’t help either.
After that he gave me a pork shoulder to slice into steaks. It filled me with pride that I managed to cut each piece (almost) the same size.
He told me that all the meat is sourced locally from Wrights in Boston and is prepared either at the High Street store or the company’s unit on Redstone Industrial Estate.
Work is done in exactly the same way at both units – there is no mass production for the sausages or any of the other items available at the shop.
And that includes the items included in the ‘specials’ cabinet – a selection of food created by staff which customers can simply take home and put in the oven. Mushrooms stuffed with sausage meat are just one of the items on the menu.
All the ‘behind the scenes’ work at the butchers is done in full sight of the customers.
The work I did was no different, as I was positioned right behind the counter where everybody could see what I was doing. At least the customers would have had a laugh at the bizarre facial expressions I was pulling.
That said, I think I did pretty well with the whole thing. I didn’t feel repulsed by it, and even got quite into it.
At the end of the morning, Scott told me: “Considering its your first time and as you’re a veggie, I think you did really well. You didn’tseem nervous and you were very hands on. I’m impressed.”
Cue proud grin from this.
And aside from the fact I spent the rest of the day worrying I smelt of raw meat, I genuinely enjoyed the experience.
I’m not sure it managed to ‘fix’ my vegetarianism though – I think I’ll stick to lentils.
Visit www.bostonsausage.co.uk to find out more.