Today’s post-holiday activities probably include going to the gym and working out. No need for this long ago.
With gifts of deer sausage and wild ducks coming in this year, it brought to mind the whole process of hunting. Today it is done for sport. There was a time that it was done out of necessity. Regardless of the reason, it was all done to put food on the table for one’s family.
In the “olden days” there were things to worry about this time of year. As soon as the first really cold front descended on the area, it was time for “boucherie”. That was the activity that surrounded the re-stocking of ones’s meat pantry for another few weeks.
Families got together to butcher an animal (either beef or pork) every month or so and the reason it was done “en masse” was because you needed a large number of people to help with the process.
The slaughter itself was a distasteful procedure but once it was done, members dissected the carcass into the parts that were needed to make a specific dish.
Bear with me here: the head was cooked and processed to make hog head cheese. Ribs were chopped short for the making of stew. There would be four large roasts in the mix. Some pickled the pig’s feet and there was oxtail soup from beef. And backbone stew. A larger portion of meat was ground up and used to stuff ponces or make sausage and boudin. And you can be sure that someone lit a fire and cooked a big pot of something while everyone was busy.
The meat was parceled out according to the number of people who came and helped. Some of the meat was smoked. Some would have been salted and kept in crocks. Some may have been hung to dry on a meat hook. And everyone went home with a full stomach.
This was an activity that was repeated as often as needed. Without proper refrigeration, meat would only last so long.
Fast forward to today and all you need is the time to jump in the car and head to the nearest grocery store to get all the fresh anything you need to prepare a meal. Long ago, you had to maintain a ‘think-ahead’ mode. Other than meats, all other foods that were planted had to be prepared for, seasoned in advance. And the process of storing fresh produce was as time-consuming as it was for meat.
When you flip a light switch, don’t take it for granted. The electricity within also keeps more than your six-pack cold!
By the way, an old-time boucherie will be held on Sunday, Feb. 19 on the City Hall parking lot during this year’s Mardi Gras celebration.
See you there!
January 8, 2012