Don't get it twisted: shopping at a whole animal butcher can be confusing. What on earth is this thing you're calling a bavette? Why is the nice person behind the counter telling me that a flank steak is interchangeable with a flat iron? If you're used to shopping with us you've probably absorbed some of our mongerly wisdom, but if you haven't, much, then this guide to buying meat like a meatmonger (complete with mongerly metaphors) is for you.
1). Am I going for shock and awe, or am I inviting friends to participate in a favorite, low-key dish?
Some of the best meals to serve your friends are the ones you like to eat best! Flank steak and chimichurri sauce isn't going to win any blue ribbon awards for how tender it is but if everybody's comfortable chewing in each other's presence then it's an outstanding way to break the metaphorical bread.
Of course, there are times when it's necessary to summon up some wow factor with a bone-in ribeye or a two-bone pork chop.
2). Am I cooking, or am I baking?
This is a metaphor for cooking mindfulness. Baking requires precision, while most cooking benefits immeasurably from a little spontaneity. If I'm making a milestone birthday dinner and there's been a specific request, then I'm going to get the bone in ribeye or the filet mignon that I need, even if it means a second stop; if I'm having friends over then I'll invite the nice person behind the counter into my thought process and see if they have anything that suits my needs.
3). I'll ask: what's delicious right now?
Our shop has many new products in for summer. And what's in our case always rotates. When I'm shopping for meat around town I'll always ask for a recommendation, but not before I share a little bit about what my tastes are, and the outlines of my plan, if I have one. And I won't always be able to accept a recommendation, but I will always say thanks for the suggestion and the service.
4). I won't leave the shop unless I'm confident in how I'm going to cook something, and if I'm feeling some hesitation I'll ask the monger for some internet search terms or a written recipe.
The google machine, despite its many wonders, can only go so far if you don't know what you're looking for. If I'm excited about what I'm taking home but it's unfamiliar to me, I'm going to ask for internet search terms, as well as for how the monger likes to prepare this item. Often, at our shop, we'll quickly write out a recipe for our customers. The last thing we want is for somebody's metaphorical ice cream scoop to fall out of their metaphorical cone. It would be a violation of our mongerly duties.
A mongerly mind meld is one of the great advantages of shopping at a whole animal butcher. We know that a guest in our shop is faced with a wide variety of unfamiliar but alluring cuts, and sharing the knowledge (in a non-condescending way) is an occupational joy! There is a time-honored tradition of highly accomplished cooks walking out of butcher shops with new ideas and recipes-- we invite you to join in.