According to an article this past weekend in The Independent, butchery is on the rise. That would be the traditional trade of meat-cutting, not anything more macabre. “Butchers, farmers and catering schools are all increasing the number and variety of courses they offer, to cater for a spike in interest from all over the country,” says the story, which attributes the numbers to a drastic decrease in the number of English butchers (less than 7,000 now in the UK; 25 years ago, there were approximately 18,500) and more people raising their own animals in a bad economy.
If you want a benchmark, consider that the new book by Julie Powell (the Julie of “Julie & Julia”) chronicles her decision to become a butcher's apprentice. “Cleaving: A Story of Marriage, Meat and Obsession” will be published this December by Little, Brown. Yes, it's territory that will sound familiar to those who read Bill Buford's excellent 2007 memoir “Heat,” in which the founder of Granta and longtime New Yorker fiction editor apprenticed himself first to Mario Batali and then to famed Italian butcher Dario Cecchini. But think of the cinematic possibilities. Sweeney Todd, for example. Does Tim Burton cook? I don't think I want to know.
For Powell's account of her new project (“I am by now fairly confident that should I want to surgically excise a streetwalker's liver, I could manage it”) and a link to this highly entertaining video, read last week's story in The Observer.