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What would you bring back from "the good old days"?


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Leaded milk, no greens most of the year, lack of refrigeration: nostalgia often erases such blights on our food life, making things seem a lot rosier way back when than they were. Still, there are certain aspects of the good old days that were truly better.

As I mention over here, the thing I miss the most is an actual butcher, none of which I'm aware of here in Providence. The last one I knew about, iconically called The Butcher Shop, is now a sandwich store with a few boutique meats in a much reduced case.

If you could set the Way-Back Machine and grab something for nowadays, what would it be?

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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I miss being able to get REAL pumpernickel down the street. And sour cream that tasted like sour cream.

And lamb at prices we can afford. When we were first married, it was the cheapest meat available.

And, Chris, we DO have a real butcher. He is half owner of the grocery store in a little town near us and he just agreed the other day to grind hamburger for us specially after I read that report by Mark Bitten on today's hamburger. I do bring Dave confections a few times a year. Can't hurt.

Darienne

 

learn, learn, learn...

 

Life in the Meadows and Rivers

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Real buttermilk.

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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I have lots of things to bring back.

The egg man, the milk man, and the horse-drawn produce carts; butchers, fish mongers, poultry stores, and full-line bakeries with fresh breads every day; soda fountains; independent drive-in restaurants; corner store pizzerias that make real NYC-Style pizza, not the bastardized versions sold where I now live.

Theresa :smile:

"Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power."

- Abraham Lincoln

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When fatty cuts of meat like chuck and shoulder/butt were dirt cheap because they were considered less desirable. We of the eGullet crowd always knew better, right?

Shelley: Would you like some pie?

Gordon: MASSIVE, MASSIVE QUANTITIES AND A GLASS OF WATER, SWEETHEART. MY SOCKS ARE ON FIRE.

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Penny candy. Remember when you could get a huge bag for a dime?

Otherwise, butchers definitely, and milkmen. Milk was just so much better then.

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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The era before corporate farming, when today's heirloom produce was everyman's produce.

McDonald's as Ray Kroc intended it.

The Fulton Fish Market and the original Sloppy Louie's

Jack McDavid cooking breakfast at the Down Home Diner.

Howard Johnson's

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

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Decent bread of many types from a variety of bakeries.

Butcher shops for sure, particularly shops where dry aging and cutting whole sides to order were just the norm before the era of boxed beef.

Produce that tastes like something. Yes, now we can get anything year round, but it's as if three or four months worth of flavor have been spread thinly across twelve months.

We have these things in New York if one doesn't mind traveling a bit around the city, paying a little extra for what is now a "luxury" product, and waiting for Greenmarket days, but they're not ubiquitous like they used to be, and in many places they don't exist at all.

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well, I'm a little young for it, but real Supper Clubs with dancing etc.

and Turkish Taffy

Chiclets in the little boxes

yeah and ditto on the real milk with cream on top delivered by the milkman

and Little Italy of the old days....Luna's

Horn and Hardart's

“I cook with wine, sometimes I even add it to the food.”

W.C. Fields

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wow, I'm shocked to hear that real butcher shops are a rarity in some parts of America.

I live in a small city of over 100,000 people. Other than at the 3-day farmer's market, there is only one independent butcher left here. Otherwise, it's supermarkets for meat purchases.

Theresa :smile:

"Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power."

- Abraham Lincoln

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A lunch counter with a milkshake machine. Getting that milkshake in a tall metal can, big enough to yield that extra half cup when the glass was empty. A hot roast beef or turkey sandwich and mashed potatoes to go with the meat and gravy. I don't regret the passing of the canned peas.

Margaret McArthur

"Take it easy, but take it."

Studs Terkel

1912-2008

A sensational tennis blog from freakyfrites

margaretmcarthur.com

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Rivers and oceans that are full of fish, and not PCBs and oil.

Amen. There is not a state in the country where fish is safe. I've been doing some research and I want to weep.

Margaret McArthur

"Take it easy, but take it."

Studs Terkel

1912-2008

A sensational tennis blog from freakyfrites

margaretmcarthur.com

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Not rarities. Extinct.
I am 54 years old. I have lived in various places in the US. I have never seen a butcher shop.

Wow, that is shocking and sad.

I was so excited by the farmers markets that I saw on my trip to the US last year, but I didn't realise that there was such a dearth of quality butchers!

Here (Australia) the neighbourhood butcher is definitely less common than in decades past, but most areas would still have at least one. I have several quality (QUALITY) butchers within walking distance, one of whom has been there for over 50 years and only stocks beautiful, properly hung free range meat.

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"Real" White Lily flour (or Red Band or Martha Washington) for the best biscuits and etc.

The stuff now available is NOT comparable to the original, no matter what they say in their advertising.

Real milk, not the "ultra-pasteurized" stuff that doesn't produce good cheese without additives.

Real butter that actually has some flavor, available anywhere.

(I buy the Kerrygold butter at Trader Joe's which is very good, but it isn't to be found at most regular markets.)

Stuff that is made without the addition of mysterious substances such as modified food starch.

Edited by andiesenji (log)

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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Move to MN if you want a ton of quality butchers. They not only butcher their meat, they also cure and/or smoke it -- stuff it into casings, etc. We're planning a 100 miles road trip on Saturday that will take us past 8+ meat markets. Foley, MN (pop 2300 something) has three of them!

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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A range of quality in fish and meat, definitely...I was reading a recipe that said "Use good quality chicken for this..." and thinking that all the supermarkets sell the same stuff, the small butcheries and have just disappeared. Fish-shops are still there, but they sell a very narrow range of fish these days, because the everyday fish is bought at supermarkets.

I also resent price-fixing...I have to pay more when fish or vegetables are scarce, so why shouldn't I be rewarded with lower prices when there's a glut? I'm sick of hearing about squid and sardines being dumped at sea to avoid lowering prices; and hearing from friends who work in supermarkets that vegetables are dumped or re-routed to downmarket discount stores rather than tarnish the shop's image by offering cut-price seconds. I just don't see the over-ripe bananas and the mounds of "hurry these into your pickle barrel" cucumbers at greengroceries these days either.

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Totally. I live in the Los Angeles basin, in a pretty large suburb (anywhere else in the country and we'd be a big city.....) and I can't think of one. Not a one. One of the local supermarket chains has in-house butchers, and that's part of their advertising strategy, because its so rare. None of the other chains (probably about 3 or 4 others) do any in-house breaking down of primal cuts, that I'm aware of. The upscale chains do, but not the mid-level ones.

And a stand alone butcher shop. No way. VERY few stand alone bakeries as well, unless they specialize in cupcakes :angry:

Ummmm, that was *supposed* to reference Mattsea's comment about the rareness of butchers. Evidently I'm still learnin' the new format.

Edited by Pierogi (log)

--Roberta--

"Let's slip out of these wet clothes, and into a dry Martini" - Robert Benchley

Pierogi's eG Foodblog

My *outside* blog, "A Pound Of Yeast"

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Not rarities. Extinct.
I am 54 years old. I have lived in various places in the US. I have never seen a butcher shop.

This is interesting. I'm just over 50 and have had quite the opposite experience. No matter where I’ve lived, there’s almost always been a real butcher nearby.

The little New England town of about 1000 souls where I grew up had 2 butcher shops until about the time I went to High school when it (scandalously!) went down to one.

I'm pretty sure I remember a butcher shop in Providence where I went to college. Admittedly that segment of my life was something of a blur, but I distinctly recall a small Italian shop a ways south of downtown where they made their own sausages and had all kinds of exotic (to me at the time) animals parts hanging on hooks and in cases. This was in the late 70’s.

From there I went (indirectly) to Tucson AZ and soon discovered a fascinating ethnic butcher shop in South Tucson. After finding ways to bridge the language barrier, managed to get some unique and interesting cuts of meat (I think most of it was beef) to take home and play with. Despite their best efforts I never did become a big tripe fan.

By 2000 my wife and I had moved onto our ranch in rural northern AZ near a town of about 10,000. We now raise most of our own food (and all our own meats) including poultry, heritage beef and whey-fed pork (we’re a small goat cheese dairy) and I do most of the butchering myself but there’s still a family-run butcher shop right in town. Not only do they process “boxed beef” on order but they are also a USDA-inspected slaughter facility taking in the locals’ home-raised livestock (or hunters’ bounties) and custom-cutting them into neat little white packages. I don’t think they don’t do much classic retail counter sales but you can definitely buy cuts of meats and sausages/jerky etc from them if you want.

Maybe I’ve just been lucky but I can say with some confidence that while “on the ropes” the butcher shop is not “down for the count”. My hope is that with the resurgence of people interested in local foods and in knowing more about where their food comes from there may be a re-birth of the local butcher. There is no question that there is a growing interest in that segment of the business by food professionals and even home butchering is on the rise (witness the recent success of books such as "The River Cottage Meat" book, "Charcuterie", and Kutas's Sausage and meat curing tome). As a matter of fact, we have the crews from two different fine-dining restaurants in Phoenix making the 4-hour drive up here next month to butcher-out their own hog (after the requisite USDA inspection and slaughter, of course) to feature on their respective menus.

Viva la Macelleria!

The Big Cheese

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