My Italian Butchers
I found my Italian butcher. Or, butchers, I should say. It’s a family-run operation, called Zago, with three qualified Italians running the place like maestros. To say I’m excited is an understatement.
I was out walking around my neighborhood one day, doing a bit of exploring, when I stumbled upon them. I was so happy about this because they’re much closer to my apartment than the other butcher I visited. In fact, they’re less than a three-minute’s walk away.
However, before I went in the first time, I stalked the place from outside for a good 10 minutes.
I don’t know why, but I felt like I was about to enter my future place of worship. So, I rehearsed my lines outside before going in.
Posso avere un kilo di carne macinata, con il grasso?
Can I please have a kilo of ground beef, with fat?
It was everything I dreamed a macelleria (butcher shop) to be.
It was beautiful with high quality items like salumi, fresh meats, cheeses, jars of colorful things stacked perfectly on top of each other, beautiful organic wines, unique beers, fancy vinegar, local honey, and extra virgin olive oil in bottles that you’d have to save, once the oil was gone, because they’re pure art.
And Italian men wearing extra nice chef coats, with nicely trimmed beards and perfectly quaffed hair.
I knew I was in good hands.
This beauty comes at a price.
I had a bit of sticker shock, as I quickly tried converting euro to dollars and kilograms to pounds. I opted to just think in euro, because it didn’t seem to hurt as much. Plus, the quality is worth it. They know the products, their origins, and it’s local.
And? This beef-loving woman needed beef.
Time to shop.
Once I went inside and looked around, all eyes on me, it’s not like I could leave without buying something. They’d probably seen me pacing the steps for the past 10 minutes right outside the door anyway.
Besides, I wanted to buy their meat so badly.
Truth be told, I couldn’t wait to give them my money. I love supporting local businesses and this one, clearly, was amazing. It was all just… so… organized(!) in their shop. Everything is local and, as true professionals, they know their meat. If I want these kinds of shops available, I need to spend the money to support them.
I might be a little weird, but I am a bit giggly on the inside when I enter. A highly carnivorous dieter in a butcher shop is like to a kid in a candy store. Disclaimer: I’m not on a full carnivore diet all the time. It’s Italy(!) – land of the most amazing pizza, fresh pasta, and creamy gelato – but I still do eat a shit-ton of meat.
“They’re the best in the area,” the guy next to me in line said. I believe it, too. These Italian butchers have been serving this Italian community for 25 years.
I want a bit of everything, I want to buy it all. And, I secretly yearn to become their favorite customer.
I opt for the humble ground beef.
In my rehearsed Italian, I courageously ask, with probably a bit too much enthusiasm, for ground beef. They go to work grinding it fresh(!), expertly wrapping it in butcher wrap, and presenting it to me like a present.
I add eggs and butter to the order for good measure.
I pay for my super-fresh-n-local rightly expensive beef et al., and proudly walk out, goodies tucked under my arm protectively like an American football.
To continue supporting my favorite Italian butchers, I return the following week. They immediately recognize me, and when I ask for a kilo of ground beef, they inquire, con grasso? (with fat?)
I couldn’t stop myself before blushing and blurting out, too loudly, in my excitement, Si!!! (Yes!!!) They remembered me and my preferences!
It Keeps Getting Better
I’ve since been there a few more times. I love it more on each visit. There was the time I bought chicken breasts and one of the butchers asks if I want him to slice it for me.
Come again? Really?
As usual, I exclaim in shock, awe, and excitement, “Si!!! Si!!! Si!!!” Pinch me, I’m dreaming. My tiny Italian kitchen with one tiny cutting board and virtually no work-space is no place for slicing raw chicken. I was elated to have him prep it for me.
I’m not going to get that kind of service, or quality of pollo (chicken) at Lidl or other supermarkets — #sorrynotsorry
This is why I love buying from local shops and from people like my Italian butchers. They remember you, they get to know you, they prepare things to order, and they make you feel so welcome. I can’t wait to go back. Too bad I have to wait until the end of August when I return to Rovigo.