Carne Cruda

meat2.jpgOkay, so this entry isn’t exactly next in chronological order, but I have all the pictures ready to go and can’t wait to tell you the story (and besides, it’s my weblog and I don’t have to go in chronological order if I don’t want to. mwah hahahhahaaha). Anyways…

A few weeks ago Carmela (of the circolo) invited us to go meat shopping with her. The special thing about this particular trip was that the market we went to was actually a local farmer’s house. They raise animals (all sorts!) and when they need money (or perhaps for some other reasons that remain secrets), they butcher one of their animals and sell it to the community (read: friends and family).

So, it’s 9:30 on a Wednesday night and we’re driving up one of the treacherous winding roads that weave through the Piemontese hillsides. These roads are actually two way streets, but there’s no way to tell until you see another car heading straight towards you (very skinny, no lines, barely paved). After a while we pull onto another road in even worse condition which turns out to be the farmer’s driveway. (It’s dark folks, electricity is costly here!).


I am seriously not exaggerating when I tell you that we were greeted by twelve barking dogs. (How many can you find in the picture at the top?) And I’m sure they had more somewhere else (in fact, there were two more strictly house dogs inside). The whole family greets us with Buona Sera(s) and kisses (when saying hello and good-bye everyone gets two kisses–one on each cheek, usually air kisses).


We go inside to their living room where they’ve set up a 10 foot table and a meat slicer. The table is covered with various and asundry cuts of meat (veal to be exact). Carmela (wearing orange in the previous picture) and the other woman that was there immediately starting picking which cuts they wanted and piling them in a big plastic bucket and some random bags. When they were finished there, Ines took us into the garage, where they had set up another ten foot long table that was also covered with meat and bones (note the nooses and wall of tools in the background).

We went through the same process in this room and when we were done making our selections the son (who looks unlike any 27 year old I’ve ever met) brought out the grinder and grinded up the parts we needed ground.

The Son & The Grinder


Then we headed back into the living room where he took out a big saw and started hacking though the bones we had chosen to take home for stock. Ines (the farmer’s wife) started cutting up the bigger pieces of meat we had chosen and tied them with string so we could more easily use them for roasts, etc.

When that was all done, we hauled all our purchases into the garage and put them on the scale. I was suprised to discover that the meat was not especially cheap.

After shopping they took us round back and showed us their sheep and goats who had just had babies the day before. This is by far the most memorable food shopping experience I’ve had here. I mean, I visited every open air market in a two hour radius last week, so I’ve got some shopping experience under my belt, but this night of meat…we just don’t have anything like this in the United States…do we?

P.S. For an update on my social life, see Roomies Around the World.


  1. Carrie · May 13, 2005

    What an interesting experience indeed. I think in the US we just buy food at the supermarket without giving much thought or worry as to where it came from. It must be fun to get everything direct from the source (though I have a distinct feeling when you’re back here you will be like, “supermarket vegetables! Give me a break!”). haha. 🙂

    I do plan on going to the strawberry farm this weekend and maybe to the farmers market too. The farmers market here is GREAT -it’s the state one so it’s huge, especially in the spring and summer. In addition to the fruits and vegetables, there are locally made jams, jellies, etc – and 2 restaurants! Oak’s favorite is the Pork store. I am slightly scared of this store because once, I looked in the refrigerated meat section and saw a PIG FACE staring back at me! It was for sale! All I could think of was Wilbur from Charlotte’s web because that’s exactly what it looked like. What does one do with a pig face???

  2. Oak · May 23, 2005

    mmmm Meat!