I’m sitting in a old New Orleans house. Warm air. Blue sky. And the lingering memory of Fat Shrimp and Red Beans consumed at midnight after a Winter Sazerac … or two. Hobos and Halloween in the French Quarter.
No. Now I am sitting in yet another airport lounge trying to stay awake on snack food and ginger ale. The travel buzz is numbing. I am grateful that I booked flights out of the south this time. So sorry for my Soggy NYC friends and the months of clean up for those in Sandy’s path. Toussaint weekend.
Two days later. I am, at last, sitting where I belong, in the middle of an old French kitchen next to a warm wood stove and thinking hard about the last two weeks and all the good people I met along the way. It’s hard to reflect with clarity when you are still moving through time zones and holidays. Home Sweet Gascon Home.
Just one week ago I was on a deck overlooking a lake in the center of America. I was surrounded by the happy chatter, low murmurs and unbridled laughter of women at play and at work. Camp Duncan in Ingleside Illinois became for one delicious long weekend focused on the meat we raise, butcher and cook. Women learning. Together. Grrls Meat Camp Rendezvous 2012.
Early in 2011, I threw out an invitation for any women interested in butchery, charcuterie, cooking or farming to join me at my Gascon home for a week of sharing and learning from each other while discovering the French ways of farm butchery & charcuterie. To my surprise nearly a dozen women from all over the US and Canada converged in Agen for a great first Meat-Up. I love it when I throw a party and people come!
The friendships that grew from this first Grrls Meat Camp continued through the year and encouraged me to ask again… did anyone want to get together again, share experiences, learn from each other, and help create a network of women farmers, butchers, cooks and teachers? YES.
We were 20 at the Duncan House at Fish Lake. The days were sunny but refrigerator cold. The Deck became our ad hoc butchery shop. A tepee was traded for a large smoker/grill. Boxes and coolers of home grown pork, chickens and fish were unpacked in a tiny kitchen. A pantry grew on a counter top stocked with pickles, jams, sauces and home made hooch. Pj’s and hoodies, aprons and butchers tools littered the bunk houses. Bourbon vs. Armagnac nightcaps around the bonfire/smoker. This is Grrls Meat Camp.
We talked and talked. We were 20 and 60 years old and in between; from Alaska, France, DC, LA and in between. Farm Grrls met Chef Grrls; Baker Grrls met Butcher Grrls; Writer Grrls and Artist Grrls captured the words, the looks, and the spirit of us. Experience gave voice to novice thoughts and together we opened a few more doors. In a world of carelessly created food, here was a safe haven of concern and responsible action from those working with meat.
There was no macho posturing as knives and saws appeared, rather the skillful hand guiding the unsure one as we took care to prepare our food. Working with meat can be scary, intense, and intimidating. A great resource not to be wasted, the hard work and time and life not to be taken lightly. We talked of nurturing and slaughter, animals and people as though the process was one, whole and interconnected. We talked of community and creating one where we are safe to learn and share.
As diverse as we are, our group gathered under a common banner of thoughtful and conscious approach to our work. Cooperation replaced competition and collaboration crowded out isolation. I am grateful for the good energy each and everyone of you brought to the groaning table.
Thank you especially to our Chicago Grrls- Kari, Ruth, Kathy, Andrea, Dani, Jennifer, Lily, Joline, Nina and Glenna. And thanks to Elaine, Carrie, Maya, Rachael, Molly, Kate, Melody, Erika, Ally, Cathy, Rachel and Catherine for hoofing it across the country with your goods and good will. We’ll meet again. Throughout the year. And invite new Grrls to join in. I am sure we will be many more strong when we Rendezvous next in Los Angeles in January 2014. We have a year of planning and thought ahead.
Nina Barrett of NPR’s Fear of Frying joined us and whittled down the day into her WBEZ broadcast- http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/grrls-meat-camp-teaches-women-fine-art-and-craft-butchering-103596 . Listen in…
These insightful and beautiful images were taken by Jennifer Marx. All copyrights and credit belong to her. Thanks Jenn for capturing the Spirit of our Grrls Meat Camp Rendezvous~ Chicago 2012.
Grrls Meat Camp Mission Statement is: to inspire, instruct and initiate a sisterhood of farmers, butchers, cooks, and teachers giving voice to women working with food animals and meat.
For more information about joining Grrls Meat Camp, contact me at: katedecamont (at) me.com .