So, two weekends ago, I attended a butchery class just for women. The pigs were provided. Knives were provided.
Bailie had a metal, industrial scabbard for her knives that hung by a chain around her waist, so badass. She was my teacher. Like a kid so proud and enamored with the person in from to the room, I wanted to point her out to my mother, and say, "Mom, mom, mom! There's my teacher!" Along with nine other women, with Bailie leading the charge, I took the hands-on, knives-on, bloody and wonderful butchery class. In it, we learned to break down whole pigs. We also learned a lot about our own anatomy, animal husbandry, sisterhood, and the joys of learning.
The class was full of smart, curious women: A teacher who is former coast guard, mothers, a director of a film festival, foodie tourists from Iowa, college students. No one sat on the sidelines nibbling charcuterie and just watching. Each of us got dirty.
I don't want to tell you the particulars of what I learned about butchery, because you—if you're curious at all—ought to seek out a similar experience and throw yourself deeply into it. You should feel out of place and uncomfortable, but so interested, so hungry. It's an amazing position in which to be.
And, if the position in which you find yourself feeds you lunch, even better. Our teachers served us potato salad, just cooked and slightly browned red potato slices tossed with green beans, olives, scallions, and basil in a red wine vinaigrette. Carafes of wine. Dead ripe figs. An assistant butcher at the shop told us he was proud of us when he needed to bring an extra platter of meat out for us—he said he had never had to bring out more for a class before. But it was pork, perfect pork, and we were strong and hungry.