Christmas at a Butchers

By Daniel Cheater

We tend to be a fairly gluttonous bunch over Christmas.

Christmas drinks, Christmas parties, Christmas Lunch. Enormous tins of chocolates followed by twice hourly trips to the fridge for Christmas leftovers. Such is the extent of our Christmas munchies that on average a family can spend over £700 on food throughout December.
christmas turkey
Photo used under creative commons by Jason Webber

But this food has got to come from somewhere. Most of us get our Turkeys and Hams from big supermarkets; it’s cheaper and more convenient, though there are still some people that get their Christmas grub from a traditional butcher. This is where I come in, for I work in a traditional butchers shop over Christmas, and I will let you in on a little secret: It is carnage.

The work starts around six weeks before the big day; we boil around a hundred hams and then vacuum seal them, gradually roasting them in honey as people come to collect on the 23rd and 24th of December. The bulk of the stock comes in about ten days before Christmas Eve, hundreds of turkeys, gammons, ribs of beef and epic amounts of cheeses and chutneys.

About a week before, we make all the sausages and put them into packs, we make the pigs-in-blankets and put them into packs, we get packs of streaky bacon and put them into packs, we make sausage-meats and stuffings… you get the idea.

Once all the preparation is done it’s time to actually make the orders and organize them in stacks. One person will “strap” (don’t ask) the turkey up, and then add then add any additional items to each order, it’s bagged, tagged and then stacked in alphabetical order.

Through-out Christmas we do get a fair amount of interesting orders. One man asked for 10 birds to be boned out and then wrapped up together to make one gigantic mega roast. It cost about £150, which more than anything made me worry about the welfare of the birds that Aldi put in their 3-bird –roast for £10 offer.

By the December 22nd the majority of the orders are done and there is just enough time to whip on a shirt and tie before the world and his wife come to our little shop in Hampshire to grab their food on the 23rd and 24th. This usually means that I spend the majority of December 25th asleep, which suits me as by then I’ve just about turned vegetarian.

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