Butchery. Modern and Old.

Discussion in 'Shooting, Hunting and Fishing' started by Chef, Apr 29, 2012.

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  1. Just watched 'Pub Dig', a sort of poor man's 'Time Team' and a few points that the archeaologist raised made me think a bit. They had an area which was an ex-slaughter house and a few of the comments he came up with seemed questionable to me, (I worked in slaughterhouses for 20+ years)

    'If there are lots of feet and horns this was probably a tannery, as thats what they take off the skins first.'
    The places I worked, the hooves were removed and binned at the s'house, try stacking 100+ hides with feet on.

    'This bone has saw marks and knife marks, evidence of butchery.'
    Saw marks fair enough, but the knife marks were deep and defined, the sort that would take the edge straight off the blade, even if it didn't just wreck it. I can't imagine that the slaughtermen of yesteryear were any less protective of their knives than today's workers.

    'The first thing you do is take the lower jawbone off, no meat and then you can get the tongue.'
    Try slinging a bovine head around with no jaw to hang onto, or to hang the head onto a hook, tongue comes out through the bottom off the mouth. The lower jawbone had been taken off with an axe blow, all the bones I saw taken off were cut out with knives through sinews, less effort, less risk than swinging a bloody great chopper about.

    I appreciate that practices change over the years, and a quick trawl through the internet reveals a sad lack of interest in dressing techniques of long ago. So I thought the huntin', shootin' types might have knowledge of this sort. Bearing in mind this was a commercial abattoir, so I'm presuming a reasonable throughput 70-240 beasts per shift.

    Thanks for any info.
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  2. Just my view as I usually make a total mess of everything. I would suggest that a lot of these so-called "experts" haven't got a clue what they're talking about.
  3. Thats my point, happybonzo, where one has no idea one has to take on trust the broadcast view. But when it seems obvious the bloke is spouting 'received wisdom' it calls the rest of it into question. My experience is in modern s'houses, although I did see the last of dressing on the floor, in the 80s.
  4. Can't help on the topic but to help put things in perspective, what era are we taking about?
  5. ugly

    ugly LE Moderator

    Its like the **** on time team looking at a fragment of pottery and declaring the whole site to be a roman land owners house, when the truth is it was probably the municipal tip!
    Butchery and slaughterhouses arent always closely linked at skill and method level. The craft butchers I have seen wouldnt last on the boning line at a packing plant butthen I cant do either and really regret turning down the unit butcher course in 1983. Apart from means of killing and the inspection I surmise (and there is no **** to say otherwise) that methods were likely to be identical broadly speaking between 1880 and 1980 and that we certainly wasted a lot less then than we do now!
  6. I was shown the latest part of the dig at Baleo Caudia. The place was a centre of production of "Garrum" a sort of fish sauce made from decaying fish. The town is very small and compact for the number of people who lived there. The nearest Roman settlements were some distance from the place.
    The suggestion from the Archaeologists leading the dig was that the townspeople liked to carry on their trade without interference. When I suggested that it was because of the appalling stench of the rotting fish guts I got the sort of looks that are usually reserved for kiddy fiddlers and stamp collectors :)
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  7. The slaughtering was reckoned to go from Victorian back to medieval times. But some skills, and practices, don't change much with time I would have thought.
  8. BiscuitsAB

    BiscuitsAB LE Moderator

    You should have said "its ritual" works every time.

    On the pub dig side Paul Blinkhorn is pretty bloody amazing.

    On the time team side there's a reason why Mick Aston left :)
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  9. Not that I know anything about it, but techniques may have changed because the 'consumer' of yore would have valued bits of the animal that the average, wasteful, modern person would be reluctant to feed the dogs with.

    They say the only bit of a pig that is wasted is the squeal, but I bet that was a lot truer in the past than it is now.
  10. Have you read 'The history of Britain revealed' MJ Harper perchance?

    Do tell about Mr Aston, please please please.
  11. True enough can't speak for nowadays but my grandfather was a butcher in a pig slaughterhouse and if the production line or saws broke down, no problem just whip out the knives or cleavers or whatever and carry on manually. He even used to have a sideline butchering pigs for loosely connected farming family on his lunchbreaks.

    He said that almost every part of the pig was used and the bits that we would find disgusting to eat were shipped off to the West Indies where they were a delicacy. He even said that bacon that had gone out of date used to come back in to the factory, and they'd simply repackage it with new dates and send it out to be sold again so it wasn't wasted... looking at some of the green meat products on my local supermarket shelves I suspect times haven't changed that much at all!
  12. BiscuitsAB

    BiscuitsAB LE Moderator

    Haven't read the book I'll add it to the list of should reads :)

    Mick left time team because he was pissed off with the way its been dumbed down in recent series. There are quite a few takes on it, including Micks own word in the recent Caouncil for British Archaeology Magazine. linky below to a local rag pretty much sums it up.

    Professor Mick Aston quits Time Team over 'dumbing down' row | This is Somerset
  13. I saw some really shit butchery in Libya, a bunch of beardies slaughtering sheep for Eid el Fitr, if they'd used a grenade it wouldn't have looked any worse, I offered to help, but as I am a filthy kuffar they didn't want me touching the meat.
  14. Ahh you were letting common sense get in the way of academic over analysis and pontification

    In London all the really shitty activities (Tanneries etc) were located in East London to keep the rets of the city relatively unsullied. (Not much change there then.)

    And as for Woad Dyers, well, Queen Elizabeth I was moved to issue a Royal Decree that no woad dye making could be within 5 miles of any Royal residence. Nobody wanted anything to do with Woad dyers because they all stank, so ended up with bunches of stinking inbreds with blue hands in the middle of nowhere.
  15. Cutaway

    Cutaway LE Reviewer

    I know a place similar to that, it's just got bunches of stinking inbreds with red hands.