Megnut

More sausage makers less bakers

We need more investment bankers becoming butchers and sausage makers. I think we have enough cupcake bakers in this country. Ed Levine on the demise of family-run artisanal food shops and the rise in cupcake baking. "Every time we lose a sausage maker, a bread baker, or a mozzarella maker, we lose a little piece of our food heart and soul, our gustatory generosity of spirit. Those are precious commodities in our culture, and we should do everything we can to preserve them."

I agree, but I don't see it happening. The thing with baking cupcakes is, it's easy. You don't need to spend years learning to do it, you don't even need to go to culinary school to make cupcakes. And you can get away with selling mediocre cupcakes that people will still adore simply because they're sweet and better than store-bought. But to be a butcher? Or a sausage maker? That's so much more work, and it's not cute and pink and fun. It's back-breaking and bloody and dangerous.

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speaks to a bit about what people are actually doing with their lives and how crappy real life 9 to 5 jobs are like.

stare at computer all day

vs.

colorful cupcakes

vs.

bloody animal parts and casings

A decade from now, though, the butchers and sausage-makers will still be employed, and the butcher shops still open. If the cupcake-bakeries know they're just cashing in a trend and are going to be dealing with a serious drop in demand a few years from now, fine -- but I wonder if they do?

Well, I have been around long enough that here in Grand Rapids Michigan's westside there was a polish, hungarian, or somebody's meat market about every 10 blocks or so before the big chain stores came in. In New York along Broadway from columbus circle to Columbia were meat markets every block. All of them made their own sausage. Of course you had to know which day they made german wurst, when they made fresh polish, and like that.

That was 35 years ago. Today there are 4 markets in Grand Rapids. A few more in Manhatten. The Russians have a lot at Brighton Beach- they are still hungry and believe in the old ways.

You talk about what we should do for the future? What future? There is no future. The industry is all but dead. The next guy that buys Katz will be the end of it. You all talk like socialites poo pooing over the latest lack of a good maid.

All you have to do is go out of your way to get the best. Take the time to go and put your money where your mouth is, and the sausage makes will come back.

Alex, Ed does take his time to go out of his way and get the best, and he writes about the best and highlights them in his articles and books. I usually buy my meat at the greenmarket in Union Square. And when I don't, I usually get it from local, small shops as well. So I'm not sure who you think isn't putting their money where their mouth is.

I hear all the time from people about the lack of quality sausage. I see at the chain stores they sell a lot of the cheap meats. My reference is not to you, who are finally speaking up for local artisans. My reference is to those that complain about the lack of quality, but do all their shopping at supermarket chains. I am agreeing with you, at the same time saying that people as a whole need to look again at the small grocery. The larger issue here is this country needs to become a little isolationist. For our economy to survive the global neighborhood we need to make and buy locally from local people.

The cupcake thing hasn't hit here yet (although I expect it's only a matter of time), but I think there are still huge gaps in the market where sausages are concerned. The Irish Sausage is a rather sad affair, and I'm always blown away by the range of sausages available in Finland when we visit. The Polish shops that are opening here now do a good range - but they're all labelled in Polish. Time to bother some nice shop assistant to explain it all to me, I suspect.

Well, there's Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's workshops based around butchering an entire animal, such as his 'Pig In A Day' event, though it's rooted in middle-class aspiration rather than working-class necessity:

http://shop.rivercottage.net/rcv2/shop/event_display.jsp?shop=events&filter=rchq&cid=58

But becoming a butcher? Or a greengrocer? It's a master/apprentice trade -- usually built upon family ties -- and the link has been broken between the family butchers who served communities before the rise of the supermarket.

For our economy to survive the global neighborhood we need to make and buy locally from local people.

But there's an irony here: in small towns and cities where old family butchers and delis are long gone, the people reviving the dedicated meat-shop tend to be the new generation of immigrants. I'm talking, of course, about Hispanic-run carnicerias.

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