Before I post pictures of me learning how to butcher a cow/bull I just wanted to explain a bit about the process of purchasing meat here. Generally speaking the comedor uses 35-50 kilos of meat each week for the lunches we cook. And we normally purchase this meat the week before from the market in Cusco or Urcos. But this week was a bit different. On Monday a woman approached us saying she was going to slaughter her cow and asked if we would like to purchase some of it. We bought all of it…all 102 Kilos of it. The thought was that since they would deliver it to our door we could freeze it and use it over the next few weeks. So they brought in the cow, it had already been gutted and whatnot, all that lacked was for us to cut it down into meal size portions. The cow was split in half down the middle; the two back legs were then also separated so that there were 4 parts in total. The front legs attached with rib cage and the hind legs. And that was how it was delivered. Pricing you ask? Well, in the market the cost would be between 8.00 and 8.50 peruvian soles (about 3USD) per kilo, but because the seller didn’t have to take it to market or look for a buyer and we were buying the whole thing we only paid 7.50 soles per kilo. That was cow number one, and we spent several hours chopping it up with several large knives and an ax.
The next day arrives. Around 10.30 am a woman appears in the kitchen obviously distraught. Her 4-year-old bull has suddenly died this morning. I asked how, and didn’t quite understand the response, but it had something to do with the grass it ate. Its stomach suddenly started to swell up and eventually it died because its stomach killed it. Apparently if you put water on the cow when this starts to happen you can prevent it from dying, but because they were so far from a water source when it happened they were unable to save it. The family has 6 kids and all of them are in school, and 4 come to eat every day in the Comedor. She is upset because the bull is a huge source of income for the family, and they didn’t know what they would do now that it had died. So they were looking for a way to sell the meat to make the most out of a bad situation. We wanted to help her so we moved some things around in the freezer to make some more room, and bought half of her bull. The thought was that half of this bull would be something like 60 kilos (or half of yesterday’s cow). But no. This Bull was big. Very big. And half of him came in around 130 kilos. Later in the afternoon they arrive with the bull in the back of a station wagon, we weigh him, and lay him on the table in my pantry. From there things proceed as they did the day before, and we begin the process of cutting down the meat to daily portions.
Probably the coolest part of all of this is that we were gifted the heart of the bull by the family. They were grateful for us purchasing the meat, and to show their appreciation they gave us the 2kilo heart. This was a nice gesture because the heart of the cow or bull here is a delicacy. So with this 2 kilo heart in the fridge we decided to cook anticucho for lunch today, and it might have been one of the most delicious plates of meat I’ve ever eaten.
And below are some pictures from my days as a butcher…