Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Bird Poo and a Butcher's Block

Health and safety is a big issue in the UK these days, but, of course, no one living there needs telling about that. Whilst there are some aspects of this that are quite evidently for the benefit of all, there are others which are just downright irritating. Mind you, if you were to walk into a particular local butcher's shop in the south of Rhodes you'd probably find yourself wishing that some aspects of the EU rules on the subject were adhered to just a tad more diligently.

The better half and I are vegetarians, a fact which I don't want to bang on about yet again here, each to his own after all, but I'm just alluding to that so you'll understand that it's a couple of friends of ours on Rhodes who gave us this tale. The butcher's shop in question is very popular and well-known for the fact that the owner, whom we shall call Lefteri, sells happy meat.

Happy meat? Well, that's how I'd best describe the fact that what you'll find in his cool cabinets are the remains of animals that had lived rather cushy lives when compared to many other poor unfortunate creatures that end up on someone's dinner plate. Lefteris keeps his own pigs, for example. These porcines are born in his own pen, which is spacious and well-blessed with shelter from the sun and rain. It contains a large watering hole, which he regularly tops up by hose during the long hot summer days from an illicit pipe connected somewhere in the undergrowth to the water main. Well, what you don't know won't hurt you, eh? That's the philosophy of your average local around these parts anyway. Thus his porkers can wallow in nice cooling mud whatever the summer weather may throw at them.

All the meat on sale in Lefteri's establishment is "organic", that is, not fed up on antibiotics, not fed some strange bulk-building concoction, not described as one thing when it is in fact another, and certainly not kept in inhumane conditions. Whether killing them at some point could be described as humane, well, let's not go there. Suffice it to say that, whilst they are still alive, they live the life of Riley.

So then, to purchase your meat from Lefteri is to enjoy the prospect of eating wholesome, free-range flesh. But, and here's the bit our neighbours had us in stitches over, our friend Lefteris has no qualms about serving his customers with a ciggie hanging out of one corner of his mouth. And that's not all…

Lefteris keeps his wooden chopping block at one end of his counter, quite near the wall in fact. In walked our friends one day recently to order a little fresh chicken, which he selected from his display in response to their vigorous hand-pointing movements from the other side of the glass. He then threw it on to the block and set about removing the bones in his usual helpful manner.

Now, that may all sound OK health and safety-wise. But, remember, not only was the ciggie wafting feathery ash downward as he worked but, also our friends' attention as they watched was drawn by the shrill singing coming from two canaries. Where were these small feathery chaps situated? They were living in a cage attached to the wall just a couple of feet above the aforementioned chopping block. It was only after having spotted the canaries that our hapless customers remembered that, prior to throwing the chicken flesh on to the block before setting about it with his boning knife, he'd used the back of his hand to wipe away a layer of small particles and debris which had been occupying the block up until seconds before. These "bits" related our friends, had borne a not unfamiliar resemblance to canary droppings and feathery thingies.

Our friends, who decided (brave of them) not to say anything, paid for their pieces of chicken, which the oblivious smiling, genial butcher had now placed into a thin plastic bag and spun it closed with his hands, and walked out with it. Later they made the decision to eat the chicken, since they concluded that dear Lefteris had been working and serving his customers in this self-same way from time immemorial and, to date, no one had (knowingly) died from anything which could be directly correlated to the hygiene methods employed at his store.

Anyway, there was always the chance that the free-range, organic nature of the meat would in some way offset the potentially negative aspects of it having been prepared in a mist of cigarette ash and on a bed of swept canary droppings.

Last time we ran into these two customers of Lefteri, they looked OK anyway.

1 comment:

  1. They reckon you need a bit of muck and soil etc in your diet to fight off any bugs don't they? Interesting marinade for a chicken anyhow and bet they will be all the better off for it, after all a little wash under the tap and a good grilling and they wouldn't have known any difference, and the fact they still living and walking is good proof