What do you do when your wife comes home with 17 pounds of fresh sausage?
This was the quandary I faced a few weeks ago. My wife, on assignment for this magazine, went to Sausage School at Avril-Bleh & Sons downtown. Her patient and extremely able teachers were Len Bleh and his son Matt. The objective was simple: To learn how the sausage gets made. It rarely gets more elemental than that. Or more tasty.
Of course, the phrase “how the sausage gets made” has, over the years, become freighted with unsavory overtones. I don’t know the etymology of the saying, but it harkens back to late 19th- and early 20th-century America, a time of rapacious robber barons, noble trust busters, and the birth of the kind of muckraking journalism that blew the lid off everything from financial graft to the horrors of the meatpacking industry. You might think, sardonically, How little times have changed. But in this case, they’ve changed immeasurably for the better. For while butcher shops surely existed back then, they weren’t nearly so clean, well-managed, and eager to please as the panoply of options we have in Cincinnati today. The sheer number and variety of free-standing, independently-owned meat counters in this city—from kosher to halal, salumeria to sausage emporium, chop shop to full-service butcher—should be a point of pride, especially to anyone who pledges to shop locally and live sustainably.
Meat-eaters of Cincinnati, hear me: You don’t know how lucky you are.
Or maybe, if you’re a regular at Findlay Market, or Madeira Choice Meats, or Stehlin’s, Holzman’s, or Eckerlin’s, or the umpteen others I could list here, you do. My only regret in producing this service package is that we didn’t have room to include every butcher shop in town. But you can remedy that simply by doing reconnaissance in your own neighborhood. You shouldn’t have to look too far.
As for that 17 pounds of sausage, we have valiantly worked our way through the Polish, chorizo, beer wurst, andouille, metts, brats, and breakfast “tiny links” with only about three or four more pounds of bangers and Beer Barons to go. So, really, the answer to my initial riddle is easy: You eat it.