Friday 23 November 2007

I've gone from curious to furious,and now have to find a new Butcher!


Oh poopers! Relations with my Butcher's shop just went down the drain, and none of the badness needed to happen at all.
For over 25 years, as often as possible, it has been my absolute pleasure to cook a roast dinner on a Sunday.
Sunday roast was always a central occasion in my childhood week. We all love food like mama made it, so even when I lived on my own, I found nothing easier than to shove a chicken leg into the oven with a couple of spuds. Steam up some fresh crunchy veg, and Bob's your uncle. A veritable feast.
Now that I make my own Yorkshire pudding too, there are few mysteries left for me in the process.
A couple of months ago I popped into my Butcher's, an award-winning establishment on the western side of the city, and bought a rolled beef rib roast. This a cut I'd never buy in the supermarket, but on the day that was in it, I found myself pointing out a lump of meat to the young man behind the counter. He assured me that it was a lovely tender piece of meat.
At that time I wasn't even sure if we had guests coming, so thinking it would be relatively inexpensive, I told him I'd have it.
When I found out that the meat cost 20 quid, I wished I'd invested in a bit of Silverside, or even better, rib on the bone. But I trusted my Butcher. They had never let me down .
Come Sunday, there were five hungry mouths at my table, and although we all feasted on crunchy roasties, yummy Yorkshire pudding, roasted parsnip, braised onions, and a plethora of veggies in wine gravy, none of us were able to enjoy the meat. There was so much sinew and gristle that I had to plead with my guests not to be too polite, but spit it out and leave it.
How disappointing!
Aware of all the good years' service I have enjoyed at said Butcher's, the next time I was passing I popped in and told one of the blokes behind the counter what had happened.
To be honest, I felt a bit embarrassed, and I told him so. Clearly there was nothing much he could do. Nevertheless, he was very sympathetic, and told me that the next time I came in to buy something, I should tell another member of staff, and they'd see what they could do.
Can't say fairer than that. As it happens, what with trips to England, at least a month passed before I was back in the Butcher's, to buy a free range chicken.
Clutching my intended purchase, I explained to the bloke behind the counter how his colleague had asked me to tell my tale of woe when I next made a purchase.
'Oh well, that's the way it goes. Sorry about that."
"Yes, I know. But why do you think your colleague asked me to tell somebody the story again?"
He gave me a big warm smile and told me that maybe he'd said that because they were always interested in feedback.
Up to that moment, I hadn't really been bothered how this all turned out. Certainly, I hadn't gone in there to get a refund.
I had gone in there to get a chicken, and follow the advice I was given the last time, if the mood took me.
But now my mood was overtaking me. As I approached the woman at the till, she asked me how I was.
"Not the best!" said I, relating the whole story again.
She then proceeded to tell me, at great length, what I already knew. Maybe it was because I have a penis. I do find that women in Irish shops seem to assume that if you have a dangly thing between your legs you cannot possibly understand food and the cooking thereof.
She told me how it wasn't a good cut. I told her I knew that.
She told me that it was just the fat that was the problem. I told her that this was not fat, which would have rendered down in the cooking. It was sinew and gristle and inedible.
She told me that if I had only brought it in so that himself the Butcher could have seen it, then she might have been able to do something about it.
I asked if that meant she didn't believe what I was saying.
Oh no, she said, of course she believed me, but there was nothing she could do if she hadn't seen the meat.
By now, I really couldn't be arsed to inform her how incredibly unlikely it was that I would have either the time or inclination to wrap up the shitty leftovers of a very disappointing dinner and bring them back to her shop.
Yet she persisted, and in the process her inability to help and generally patronising attitude managed to turn my mildly disappointed ambivalence into a raging fury.
Once again she told me that it wasn't a good cut of meat to buy. She told me that she would never buy that cut. And once again, trying to be a better human being, I declined to point out that her own employee had told me what a good piece of meat it was, how tender it would be.
Neither did I mention that it cost 20 quid, which is a juicy chunk out of this household's grocery budget.
It just wasn't worth it.
Finally, I'd had enough. I paid for my chicken and made for the door. She called out.
"You do understand, don't you? There's nothing I can do!"
"I do I do I do. Oh, and you'll understand that I won't be back."
A few minutes earlier, I'd walked into that Butcher's shop, feeling there was no real reason why they should refund me any money.
But in an astonishing inversion of customer service, by simply following the advice of their own employee, I had been dragged into an argument I didn't want to have. I had been treated like a moron, and ended up furious, wondering why she hadn't just given me a couple of quid off the chicken I was buying, for no other reason than to save a little goodwill and customer loyalty.
Now I have to find another Butcher's . What a bloomin' shame!

Double Vision
Caricatures Ireland

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