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The Secret Handshake

It Was Like I Tasted Meat For The First Time

by Colin Wolf
- Posted // 2012-12-10 -

Whenever someone offers me a fancy meat I can’t pronounce, I won’t question it, I’ll just eat it. Unfortunately, this life choice has resulted in me appreciating good meats but never really knowing a damned thing about ‘em. So, to remedy my ignorance, I decided to visit one of Salt Lake City’s OG butchers, Frody Volgger of Tony Caputo’s Market and Deli.

Frody Volgger loves meat more than you

When I met up with Frody last Friday morning, he was busy chopping up a goat. I was hoping that he would at least let me butcher the damned thing, but Frody is a professional and he didn’t want me to cut myself. Or at least that’s what he told me. I believe he just didn’t want me to fuck anything up. Anyway, I wasn’t allowed to touch anything, especially the goat. 

This little guy came from Christiansen Farms in Vernon, Utah, where it had lived a happy, hormone-free goat life. It was raised to be butchered, unlike those lazy milkin’ goats.

I'll admit I was little disappointed that I couldn’t help out. I really wanted to let loose on that goat. But as I discovered, cutting meat is a science and Frody is like a damned meat scientist. He’s been in the business for over 45 years. “You can read books till you’re blue in the face, but none of them have it right,” said Frody, as he pushed the goat through a meat saw. “You just have to do it for a looong long time.” Frody learned how to carve meat as a young boy growing up on his parent’s Austrian dairy farm and he loves meat more than I could ever understand. In other words, he handles it, smells it and cuts it as if he were a sculptor, carving a beautiful woman from a block of polished tenderloin.

This is the meat saw. “No one touches the meat saw!” -- Frody

I should point out that watching a goat get sliced in half with a medieval torture device is somewhat of a transcendent experience. One moment you’re a happy little goat doing goat stuff on a goat farm. The next thing you know, you’re being processed into ribs, chops, roasts and, hopefully, sausage. It’s good to be human.


While Frody worked, I stayed out of his way as much as possible. It was clear that he was in the zone. The only thing I was allowed to do that was remotely butcher-like was hold this big-ass knife long enough for him to snap this picture…

Look, Mom, I’m doing it. I’m butchering.

Well, that’s not completely true. Frody uses every little piece of animal that he butchers. So after he finished up with the goat, he had to whip up some dog treats from a pig he had processed a couple of days ago. With his careful oversight, I was allowed to make a few doggie roll-ups from left over pigskins:

My finest creation. They're like Fruit Roll-ups minus the fruit.

All right, the most impressive thing about Caputo’s butcher shop is its humidity-controlled walk-in freezer. Basically, it’s a massive meat-seum that’s filled with Frody’s side projects. Because he’s the sausage king of Salt Lake City, customers bring him whatever they’ve killed on a regular basis. So, in every corner there's salmon, trout, elk, pig, beef -- any animal you would ever want to see inside a sandwich. As Frody and I toured the walk-in, it felt as if I were following Willy Wonka through his chocolate factory. When you watch this, just mentally replace all the candy with sausage: 

Before I left Caputo’s, Frody insisted I sample a piece of his famous speck. Essentially, it’s a type of bacon that he’s been drying out for a couple of weeks. He sliced off a thin piece and handed it to me. Before I put it in my mouth, I expected it to be chewy and tough, like bacon jerky. I was wrong; it was soft and supple and it melted on my tongue like a bacon-flavored Listerine strip.

Pronounced "shpeck" like you have a wad of peanut butter on the roof of your mouth.

As I sampled the speck, I understood why Frody didn’t want to me touch anything. You see, as much as I thought the speck was the best thing I’ve ever tasted, Frody looked unsatisfied. “Eh, it’s not salty enough,” he said as he chewed it slowly. “It needs to sit a while longer.” The man’s a perfectionist when it comes to meat and therefore it only made sense that I was relegated to making dog snacks. But I'm OK with that. From now on I’ll just go back to enjoying the things I can’t pronounce and let this guy do what he does best.


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Posted // December 12,2012 at 14:20

While I don't have any disrespect for the view of those vegetarians here, it is clear the brain power and/or effort in these comments lies with those like Les, Francis, Andrew and Vanessa who are clearly very well spoken and educated. Thank you all so much for your comments in our defense.

I could not have said it any better myself and I bet you my diet with a limited amount of meat with all ingredients sourced from small scale artisans has a lower carbon footprint than your average vegan.

Of course I don't relish in killing animals, but this is why we use every single bit. Bones, tail, trotters, skin, ALL. I was born with canines and I like to use them every so often. And when I do, Frody provides the most sustainable option which is not part of the industrial food system vegans and PETA love to reference. I am not saying enough of such meat could be produced to feed the world. Thank goodness I only need to feed myself and our handful of conscientious omnivore customers.  



Posted // December 11,2012 at 17:53

One more thing, if you see "Happy Meat" (local, non-factory farmed) as a viable, non-earth destroying part of the solution. . . unfortunately, "Happy Meat" is the proverbial drop in the bucket. . . and that bucket is about as vast as all the world's oceans combined. Big dang bucket.

Global warming is real. The HUGE role animal-based products play in global warming is real. The idea that the world's growing appetite for animal products could ever be met in ways that don't involve massive, earth-wrecking factory-style processes is wholly unrealistic.

Changing one's appetite (and diet) from animal-based, to plant-based, however, is very realistic. I know, I did it myself after being a full-on omnivore for over 40 years.

If you value this planet. . . if you call yourself an environmentalist. . . well, there's no single thing you can do that's more effective in lessening your carbon footprint than opting for a plant-based diet.  

And believe me, it's WAY more delicious than you likely think. Just go buy yourself a bunch of ridiculously-tasty Dillos from Cakewalk Baking Company @ 434 South, 900 East, SLC, stuff them into your face, and you will instantly see what I mean. They're like Twinkies. . . only MUCH BETTER. I almost moved back to Utah because of them.

I'm not a hater. I'm only trying to help.

Peace and stuff, SLC. You were always so good to me. Now, everybody please go vegan. :)


Posted // January 26,2013 at 01:54 - Sorry Mr. Caputo, but many mammals (such as apes) have much larger Canines and don't eat meat. Perhaps our teeth are to get through tough rinds and skins of fruits and vegetables.


Posted // December 12,2012 at 09:30 - I like all food. I like vegetarian options. I like vegan options. And I like meat. Plant-based diets can still have a huge carbon footprint, especially if you're relying on items that are shipped far and wide. I love making carrot butter (as a first course before my pork roast!) but are the macadamia nuts I use as a creamy base really that "green?" The coconut oil and coconut water that's skyrocketing in popularity, is that ok, too? Beans and legumes that are grown elsewhere and shipped across the world. What about the carbon footprint on that. Again, everyone is entitled to their consumption choice. It's our money. That's how we have our impact. Whether omnivore or not, I wish more folks owuld think about prudent consumption, the miles food took to travel, etc. Truth is, if we eat we are all guilty of some travesty on this world or another. The question now is how to minimize it without shooting ourselves in the food - i. e. supporting local folks doing things in a sustainable way whether you agree with it or not, or supporting a broad interpretation of a plant-based diet that still exploits third world countries and relies on a fossil-fuel based trasnportation system.


Posted // December 11,2012 at 13:54

Colin! I'd love to see you go vegan for a week and write about it. There are a lot of interesting vegan places to eat in Salt Lake!


Posted // December 11,2012 at 19:28 - If you're so passionate and a true believer, Mr. Middlefinger, why not sign your actual name and own your words?


Posted // December 11,2012 at 19:06 - This is an article about meat. Who are you expecting to reach with this comment?!!


Posted // December 11,2012 at 16:43 - That is an awesome idea.


Posted // December 11,2012 at 13:06

One more time, for those with a meat addiction, a stiff neck, and a 10-year old's need to call people 'nazi'. Hope it helps all of us who share this planet:

"Lesser consumption of animal products is necessary to save the world from the worst impacts of climate change, UN report says. . . "


http://www. guardian. co. uk/environment/2010/jun/02/un-report-meat-free-diet


Posted // December 11,2012 at 13:55 - Meat addiction, huh? [rolls eyes]


Posted // December 11,2012 at 12:40

Violence, killing and death is never the solution, especially when it comes to our diet. With so many other dietary options, including super foods, it's important for humans to seek out non-violent forms of food. Just because we lived and ate like cavemen in the past, does not mean we need to continue the violence in the future.   We as humans will know true peace until we practice true peace and compassion towards all beings.

"Non-violence leads to the highest ethics, which is the goal of all evolution. Until we stop harming all other living beings, we are still savages. "
-- Thomas Edison


Posted // December 12,2012 at 09:25 - These "superfoods" are now produced in such industrialized agricultural settings, it could hardly be called sustainable. I don't care if you call it acai, "wild" blueberries, tomatoes -- when the whole developed world wants to go in on a craze versus prudent consumption, we as consumers are always going to negatively impact the planet. That's how the food supply chain unfortunately works. Everything we eat from a mass produced setting shipped to locales far and wide will have a massive carbon footprint.


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