By: Blonde Two
This post comes with a warning to those of you who are confirmed non meat-eaters… I won’t be upset if you don’t read on.
I was recently given the opportunity by the fabulous team at Land and Wave, to take part in a Dorset woodland venison butchery session. Like many people, I have, over the last few years, been considering my food choices and how these impact on my health and the planet. Although once told by a vegetarian friend that I would be, ‘A really rubbish vegetarian’ (she is a good friend and was perhaps right), I eat far less meat than I used to. I have long had the niggling thought that, if I eat animals, I should be willing to see my meat in less clinical surroundings than a supermarket plastic tray and maybe face some of the realities of my choice. So I took the opportunity and said, ‘Yes please’.
I learned a lot about venison and about myself. For example, I had no idea where some (possibly any) cuts of meat came from, or that single areas of an animal can contain so many different muscles, all of which cook and taste differently. Neither did I know that traditional butchery can use the hands and fingers almost as much as a knife. The team at Land and Wave were proud of their knowledge and expertise and rightly so. They answered all of our questions and were respectful of their craft and the task. So as not to offend anyone, I won’t go into details about the butchery process here but suffice it to say, it was a hands on session, there were vegetarians and vegans who joined in and were just as interested as me.
I missed an archery session to stay by the camp fire and learn a bit about cooking the venison. It smelt and tasted delicious and the best campfire cooking tip I learned was to have loads of butter and thyme in which to gently continue the cooking process and keep the meat warm. It was fascinating to taste the cuts and experience how different the flavour and texture of each one was. I have to confess to eating a tad too much.
You would imagine that you would come away from such an experience either wanting to eat more meat or give it up altogether but neither has happened to me… yet. I have however gained an admiration for the skill of a good butcher and a desire to find more local and ethically sourced meat. Would I recommend a woodland venison butchery masterclass? Yes I definitely would. The best decision making is based on experience and what better experience than doing at least some of the deed yourself?