Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A healthy relationship

OK, so I just talked about how you can get pork belly in Chinatown, but one of the commenters on that post raised a good point – what if you don't live anywhere near a Chinatown? This gives me an opportunity to talk about a really important relationship in any serious food-lover's life: the relationship between you and your butcher.

If you value good ingredients, do yourself a favour and make friends with the people who sell you your food... your butcher, your greengrocer, your fishmonger, etc. Building good relationships with these people, at the end of the day, is going to get you better quality ingredients at better prices. Plus, you'll probably learn a thing or two about the ingredients in question, which is a great way to add to your arsenal of food knowlege. If you're nice to your butcher, he or she will likely remember you and next thing you know, you're getting the inside scoop on what's come in fresh that day, what's the best cut for the dish you're making, what's the best value for your dollar...etc. A downright treasure trove of information.

What does "make friends" mean? Well, introduce yourself, talk to them, ask questions, smile – if you're the opposite sex, it doesn't hurt to flirt a little (or the same sex if you're getting a gay vibe). Make them feel like you trust their opinion, which you should, considering they're the expert in their field.

Now this doesn't mean you should start wearing cleavage tops and luring the 17-year old boy who works in the meat department of your supermarket into some kind of lurid conversation about pork. Well, OK, you totally should do that... but don't expect to get a useful relationship out of it. When I say "butcher" I mean a proper butcher, in a butcher shop. It's worth going to a specialty store for ingredients if you want quality. Supermarkets have their place, but nothing replaces a shop that is run by people who know their craft.

Now get to flirtin'!

1 comment:

  1. LOL, Red, about the flirting. But you're so right about developing a relationship with a butcher. In the days of the megamart, sometimes it's the only place to get unusual cuts or offal (or headcheese!). And they can do special orders by request, which few grocery stores would do anymore.