04
Apr 13

Hands on Food

Baker kneading dough

Baker kneading dough © 2012 Roger Overall

Making food requires skill. Watching a butcher make sausages or a baker knead dough is mesmerising – to me, at least. Their hands move faster than it seems possible for their brain to control. And when they are done, they have crafted something that I can’t. They’ve also produced something that I really want.

It’s a shame, then, that proper butchering and baking skills seem to be dying out. A high-end butcher friend of mine laments the demise of his craft. He is keeping the flame burning, but worries about the next generation. He once told me of a prediction made at a meat conference in the US: “Soon the only two cuts of meat available will be steak and mince.”

Partly that’s because it’s what the consumer wants. And what the consumer wants, the consumer gets. They barely know any different, because the number of skilled butchers who can show them different is declining. So they stick to what is familiar. It’s a vicious circle.

Some say it’s too late for the tide to turn. Society has progressed too far down the track away from artisan food production, they counsel.

So we should enjoy watching skilled food producers at work while we still can.

Maybe in doing so we can contribute to the slowing, if perhaps not the halt, of society’s dash towards the embrace of ever more industrialised food production.


18
Mar 13

New Website Galleries

Pig at Crowe's Farm, Co. Tipperary, Ireland

Pig at Crowe’s Farm, Co. Tipperary, Ireland © 2012 Roger Overall

Pat Whelan and TJ Crowe are both meat men. Great people to talk to and learn from. Both trying to make a difference in the meat business.

Last year, Pat asked me to photograph the new James Whelan Butchers’ shop at the Avoca food hall in Monkstown, Co. Dublin. And TJ needed photographs for his new range of extensively farmed pork products.

Quite why, I cannot fathom, but it’s taken months for some of the work to find its way on to the portfolio website. I guess life moves so fast sometimes, we forget to pause and reflect on what we did.

The James Whelan Butcher’s shop work is here: The Butcher; the pictures produced for TJ are here: The Pig Farmers.

James Whelan Butchers Shop, Avoca, Monkstown, Co. Dublin

James Whelan Butcher’s shop in Monkstown – a shrine to meat © 2012 Roger Overall