Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Buying Meat

Dislaimer: Buying meat in Mexico is not for the squeamish. It involves much larger chunks of animal than we are used to seeing.

Today I stopped at Carneceria La Norteña in the mercado to buy a kilo of pork shoulder and some chorizo. Recently I made a batch of a good-looking recipe for ancho chile sauce and I wanted to braise the pork in it. This carneceria (meat shop) was recommended to us by someone who has lived here for a long time, and their meat is quite good. Last time I bought pork belly, which is a favorite of mine--it's so "porky"--and it's hard to find in Salida unless you pre-order it from Scanga. But here you can just point to it and the butcher cuts off what you want. Because it's what becomes bacon it's best to slow roast or braise it.

So I asked for my selection and the butcher turned to his helper. The young man returned with half a pig (minus the head, which was hanging above the counter already). The butcher removed some skin with his impeccably sharp knife, asked me if I wanted it (no), and then removed the entire shoulder from the carcass. He carved off a chunk, weighed it, and added a bit more to bring it up to a kilo.

"Algo más?" (anything more) he inquired. I asked for chorizo and held up my hands to indicate about 2 feet. "Un metro y media!" (a meter and a half) he quipped, and we both laughed. After I paid him, he said, in English, "Thank you, my lady."

These little casual exchanges are part of what I find so charming about Pátzcuaro. Most of the vendors are very good natured and friendly, and are happy to tell you about their products and how to use them. We have discovered some new delicious fruits that way.

Except for the largest grocery stores, all meat and chicken is bought in mercados or carnecerias. Shops that sell meat do not sell chicken, and vice versa. Men sell meat and women sell chicken. Don't ask me why.

1 comment:

  1. Good observation on the sexual division of the meat and chicken sellers. But there are a few, rare exceptions.

    Don Cuevas