— FALL 2012 Q&A —
With Marissa Guggiana, author of Primal Cuts
In the years since I began traveling the country to meet all the amazing butchers in the original edition of Primal Cuts, I founded The Butcher's Guild. My deeper involvement and commitment to re-building the artisanal butcher community has introduced me to so many amazing craftsman. It was such a blessing to be able to include some of these brilliant craftspeople.
2. What are your favorite meat-accompaniments—sauces, vegetables, beverages?
This is a toughie. Food is context. The weather, the occasion, the ingredients, the budget. But I think a salsa verde and a salsa rosso should be in everyone's repertoire. And wine is always welcome.
3. How have you seen food culture and industry change since your first started your Primal Cuts project?
Local food systems have developed in complexity and quantity. Butchers are finding new ways to utilize whole animals by preparing gorgeous ready-to-eat products.
4. What projects have captured your attention in the food and butchery industries?
I have started The Butcher's Guild in the wake of all the amazing relationships I formed making Primal Cuts. We have almost 100 members from all over the country, each of them a talented, devoted butcher that brings good meat to their neighborhood. I am so honored to be a part of preserving these skills and an industry that has so many challenges (and so much beautiful potential!).
5. What changes or innovations in the world of butchery have you observed over the last few years?
Innovating with simplicity is the trend I follow. So many more butchers are becoming inspired to go deeper into their craft by learning to cure meats, using fresh ingredients and original recipes for sausages and using the whole animal to make old school treats like beef tallow-fried potatoes and lard cookies. Seam butchery, a traditional European method, is also becoming more popular. This technique follows the muscles to create cuts not usually seen in the US.
6. Do you think butchery will continue to gain popularity as the sustainable and local food movements increase in prominence?
Yes! When you buy from local farmers, you generally get a whole animal. This means, as local food systems continue to grow and prosper, we will need more and more butchers that know what to do with that meat. A real butcher is a sign of health and diversity in a local economy. It also means not being resigned to boneless, skinless chicken breasts!
7. How have you changed as a butcher, a writer, and an eater since the first edition of Primal Cuts?
I have only grown more attentive and respectful. Everything is connected to everything. What we eat affects our health, our economy, our mood, our planet's future. Having a book out in the world has connected my ideas to so many people I never would have otherwise known. I am glad that this connection is one of pleasure and appetite.