Animal

Kaninchenbraten Mit Hausgemachten Spätzle (Rabbit With Pasta)

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Last  week I bought myself a rabbit at my neighborhood supermarket. As I was about to prepare it, I started to think about the animal in my hand’s and about how we humans love and respect some animals, while we disregard the majority of most species as soulless, feelingless Beings, which have no other purpose in life as to serve us in any which way we want.
We humans like to think of ourself as getting tougher as we get older. For the first 50 years of my life this was mostly true for me. However, for the past few year’s I have realized that the process has started to reverse itself, at least when it comes to being tough to other beings. Truth is, I have gotten very tough to myself as life and circumstances have hardened me over the years, but when it comes to the way I treat and feel towards others, I’ve become a soft pussycat. To illustrate my point, here is a little story from my past, triggered by this little rabbit:

When I was about nine years old, I begged my dad to allow me to breed rabbit’s in our back yard, so I could sell them to our neighbors as sunday roast for 10 german marks a pop. My dad gave me permission under the condition that once he build the cages for me, the rest of the operation was to be my complete responsibility. This meant purchasing the first pair, gathering the food (cutting clover from behind our house) and feeding them, keeping the cages clean and –  butchering the animals. In these day’s, the way to do this was to hold the animal by it’s ear’s and whacking them in the neck with a honing steel to break the neck. Growing up in the country side, we kid’s saw animals being butchered up close all the time, so there was nothing unusual about it, no second thought’s. So I had this little business going for about a year, after which I became interested in other stuff and had no more time for my rabbit’s, which by that time had grown to a population of about 40, as they multiplied faster than I could sell them :-).
Later in life as a professional cook, butchering animals was a common task while I was younger, so again, not many second thought’s about it. However, during the past few year’s I have become a different person, with different feelings and opinions. Although I am still an advocate of the practice of eating meat and seafood, I am horrified of the way the livestock industry has developed. The way animals are raised, kept and butchered is for the most part a shameful, horrifying, mind boggling heartless, soul-less affair, for which everybody involved should be deeply ashamed.
So here is my point: While I had no problem as a kid to slaughter an animal with my bare hand’s, this would be completely out of the question now. I would sooner cry my eyes out before I could harm a helpless animal for my own gain. I have no illusions that I will give up meat and seafood consumption at this time in my life, but I pray everyday that the circumstances of breeding and butchering animals will improve to a level where we as humans don’t have to be ashamed anymore of the way we treat livestock, from it’s birth and trough it’s life until it’s (hopefully) merciful death.
I would appreciate some of your comments and opinions about this. If you do comment, please do so directly on the comment part of my blog, not trough Linkedin, FB or other links, so we can all share our thought’s in this important matter.
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Click here for “Hausgemachte Spätzle” recipe
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Braised Rabbit In Merlot/Sour Cream Sauce With Homemade Schwäbische Spätzle

Braised Rabbit In Merlot/Sour Cream Sauce With Homemade Schwäbische Spätzle

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The ( culinary) world is a big, beautiful, interesting, evolving place, and it’s center is not necessarily in our own backyard :-)

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Hans Susser  wrote on LinkedIn
about the vanishing need of butchery knowledge by chef‘s :

Dear fellow professionals,
It always amazes me how many americans think we are in the center of the world and only our practices make sense and are up to date. The fact is that in most countries around the world there is a paralel world of  meat utilisation. While there are comercial  slaughterhouses everywhere, the majority of meat and  seafood is processed on a much smaller scale. Those  chef’s who travel the world practicing their trade will be faced with the fact of seeing whole  animals being delivered to their hotels and restaurants and then broken down on the property. Dishes are being cooked from every part of the animal,including the blood, feet, snout, heads, etc, etc. A chef would look pretty silly and useless not to be able to teach his staff to work more time effective, cost effective and cleaner while doing these tasks. Then you have the areas where game is a big attraction during the seasons and again, many hunters just take out the digestive tract and deliver the animal whole, pelt, head, innards, EVERYTHING 🙂
Imagine the waste which would occur (and it does) when the animals are not handled by knowledgeable folks.
Unnecessary craft and skills ? Not in my opinion, unless you plan to work in a environment without creativity. I am aware that sometimes we don’t have the opportunity to be creative to a certain point, after all, we need enough customers who are willing to pay for dishes they have never heard of or are not currently on the “in”list. However, if given the chance, we should embrace the opportunity to be well rounded chef’s who can carry on the traditional skills which will always be needed in one place or another, during one time or another.
While I have embraced the convenience and cost effectiveness of buying pre-cut meat and fish on many occasions and places, being able to break down the whole animal was a far more common requirement during my career. I have also worked with a professionally trained american butcher who was amazed by how much he could learn from me in all aspects of  butchery, from the traditional cuts as they are done around the world, down to sausage making and breaking down seafood. So in conclusion, it is my opinion that if you work in an environment where certain skills are not required, please don’t dismiss them as being unnecessary and antiquated.
The ( culinary) world is a big, beautiful, interesting, evolving place, and it’s center is not necessarily in our own backyard 🙂