Tuesday, February 17, 2009

My New Butcher

A few weeks ago, I went to "My" butcher in Guadalupe. I wanted to make some beef stew, but I didn't know how to ask for the right cut. The butcher shop has a sign on the back wall listing all sorts of cuts and types of meat, but they are all specialized Spanish! How would you ask for a chuck roast? or stew meat? I knew that if I asked for meat for "Olla de Carne," I would get ribs - not at all what I wanted. (Olla de Carne translates to "Pot of meat," and is like beef stew, but it is a specialty of Costa Rica, and is definitely different than your basic Irish stew.)

So, in preparation for this trip, I looked up all sorts of possibilities in my dictionary, and wrote them on my shopping list. I'm sure all that helped, but the final answer for the name of the cut was *not* on my list!

When I got to "MY" butcher, as usual, I stood in a line that was 4 or 5 people deep. Saturdays are *very* busy, with so many people buying their meat for the week. So, it took about half an hour to get to the front. Meanwhile, I was sharing eye-rolls with my fellow penitents, and becoming more and more amazed at how friendly and patient the butchers continued to be. When the fellow in front of me finally paid for his mountain of beef, chicken, pork, sausages, etc., and it was my turn, I started with the hard question.

I said that I didn't know the name for the cut of beef, but it was something like... and I rattled off my list of Spanish "stew meat" names. Well, "my" butcher called over another to help, and we all had a conference - they looked at my list, and seemed amused that I was trying so many different Spanish terms (and none of them the right one). They finally determined that what I wanted was rump roast - "posta cuarta de res"- cut small - "trocitos." They showed me the entire roast first, and I said "yep! looks good." Then "my" butcher cut some pieces and showed me the size. I said "maybe half that size" and he cut them even smaller - "trociticos."

All this time, my butcher was smiling, the consulting butcher was smiling, and another fellow behind the counter was smiling (I don't know about the folks standing in line behind me - I didn't dare look...). I noticed that the name on the money bowl was "Solórzano," and it made me think of the sun (sol, solar) - and before I knew it, my mouth was open again... I asked if that was his name, and he said yes - I said (essentially) that it suited him, because his face was so sunny. Well... he wrote out his name for me - and added his phone number =:-o.

I am *positive* (yes yes yes) that this is the phone number of the butcher shop, and he only gave it to me so that if I had more questions, he could answer them.

Hmmm. Well, the stew turned out great, and the next time I went to the butcher, I somehow ended up in the line next to "my" butcher. The consultant saw me in line half-way across the room, recognized me, and said "how are you?" I hollered back, and when I got to the front of the line, he came over and shook my hand. Both he and "my" butcher asked how the meat worked for me (this is two weeks later!). I told them how I cooked it, and they seemed genuinely interested.

My walk home took just over half an hour, and I smiled the whole way...

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