Saturday, February 13, 2016

powerful words

From Thomas Keller, chef, in Tim Ferriss's The Four-hour Chef:

One day, I asked my rabbit purveyor to show me how to kill, skin, and eviscerate a rabbit. I had never done this, and I figured if I was going to cook rabbit, I should know it from its live state through the slaughtering, skinning and butchering, and then the cooking. The guy showed up with 12 live rabbits. He hit one over the head with a club, knocked it out, slit its throat, pinned it to a board, skinned it - the whole bit. Then he left.

I don't know what else I expected, but there I was out in the grass behind the restaurant, just me and 11 cute bunnies, all of which were on the menu that week and had to find their way into a braising pan. I clutched at the first rabbit. I had a hard time killing it. It screamed. Rabbits scream, and this one screamed loudly. Then it broke its leg trying to get away. It was terrible. The next 10 rabbits didn't scream and I was quick with the kill, but that first screaming rabbit not only gave me a lesson in butchering, it also taught me about waste. Because killing those rabbits had been such an awful experience, I would not squander them. I would use all my powers as a chef to ensure that those rabbits were beautiful.

It's very easy to go to a grocery store and buy meat, then accidentally overcook it and throw it away. A cook sauteing a rabbit loin, working the line on a Saturday night, a million pans going, plates going out the door, who took that loin a little too far, doesn't hesitate, just dumps it in the garbage and fires another. Would that cook, I wonder, have let his attention stray from that loin had he killed the rabbit himself ? No. Should a cook squander anything ever?



hahnak said...

i have to admit i have been wasteful. its good to be reminded to be more careful with your raw materials

Charles said...

I remember the first time I heard a rabbit scream. It was horrible--it almost sounded human. I was young, and I think it scarred me. At least I never forgot it.

And I agree that we should be a lot more careful with our ingredients. If you think about how much food we waste, and how that food was once living creatures who gave their lives that we might eat... yeah, it's kind of making me sick to think about it now.