There’s something very masculine about meat, isn’t there? The immediate image that comes to mind is the braai. Generally and mostly it’s men standing around advising other men about how often to turn the meat, what adjustments the fire needs for different meat and so on. That’s why male vegetarians aren’t really complete men- kind of like missing a testicle.
This is not to ignore the fact that it is actually mostly women that prepare and cook meat but without the fanfare and drama that male meat interaction seems to involve.
An example is the poitjie. Men who wouldn’t know how to boil an egg for dinner and practically strain themselves to find the cereal or burn themselves making toast become experts on all matters culinary when preparing meat for the potjie, its tenderisation, the slow cooking of, flavouring, what spices and herbs to apply, the works.
In fact rarely does one see the high level of sophistication men embrace when it comes to meat outdoors. Wives who try to solicit an ounce of assistance with the evening meal preparation during the week are met with nonplussed expressions and glazed eyes when asked to: “just toss the salad while I:- go to the loo, shift grandpa, change this nappy, move the house to the left.”
Then there’s biltong – do women and children eat it, sure. But who’s the expert on what biltong is the best, most flavoursome and assuming the correct shape – the man. If a woman offers an opinion on biltong, men assume embarrassed looks or bow their heads, and that’s the polite response. What could a woman possibly know about biltong? And let’s not get started on the intricate equipment that men have invented to cut, shave, slice and dry biltong in the luxury of their own home.
This possibly explains something: men and butchers. Men may not be able to find the right deodorant, two-ply loo-rolls, a ripe avo or correct baby formula at the supermarket, but they can be found congregating around the butcher on a Saturday morning. Dozens of them standing around discussing the length of their boerewors, different flavours, contents and uses. (This is the same butcher that housewives have been consulting nonchalantly during the week.)
One may venture that in our society a truly masculine man knows his local butcher – this is the closest men get to hunting in the 21st century. Butchers are the druids or medicine men of the modern western culture. Butchers are greeted with special reverence. Various cuts of meat are discussed, advice is sought and opinions are given. “Would it do better in the Weber, should I debone them before putting them in a potjie, is sixteen table spoons of salt too much, what percentage of fat is optimum in a good wors,” questions that any housewife would come up with a common sense answer for. But men respect the views of their butchers.
So meat is very important to men, it’s a reminder of those cavemen days when bringing home a carcass ensured hugs from small children respect from adolescents and long romantic evenings with Mrs Caveman. Today even bringing home the paycheque is obsolete never mind bringing home the bacon. It’s all done over the net. So ladies give your man a break, when you see him lurking about the butchery for that exciting moment when the butcher comes out, don’t nag, let him enjoy being as close to the kill as he’s ever going to get.