Pic’s history of meat processing

Stockyard photos from Chicago

Images from the Union Stock Yards, Chicago, USA, and pork abattoir’s, from The Modern Packing House, by Nickerson and Collins Co., Chicago, 1905 and 1920.

Photos from Harris Bacon, Wiltshire, England

Harris photos from old newspapers and redrawn in Cape Town.

Harris Bacon photos, courtesy of Susan Boddington, curator of the Calne Heritage Centre.



Ancient photos from Germany

An old pic re-published in the doctoral dissertation of Klaus-Dieter Baja, University of Hamburg, on the changing face of the butches profession.


Vintage photos by Edward S Curtis

Drying Whale Meat – Hooper Bay (The North American Indian, V. XX. Norwood, MA, The PLIMPTON Press). Artist, Edward S Curtis.
Drying Meat, Flathead, 1910 – Hand colored vintage photogravure – 5 1/4 x 7 1/4 inches plate. Edward S. Curtis. From nygardgallery.com
An iconic photo by Curtis, Edward S., 1868-1952, created c1908 November 19, Two Dakota Indian women hanging meat to dry on poles, tent in background. Published in: The North American Indian / Edward S. Curtis. [Seattle, Wash.] : Edward S. Curtis, 1907-30, v. 3, p. 96.

Photos from Robert Goodrick

About this photo, he writes, “That was the year when we cleaned 900 pieces of poultry — I smelled like a turkey for weeks after :-(”

He says that “The bearded wonder in the center of the photo Quiet Waters Farm is yours truly 1974 I believe :)”

Robert remembers that “this is when ‘butchers’ was ‘real’ butchers 🙂 that Christmas we did over a 1000 birds which included a few ducks, geese, roasting chickens (6lb’ers) as well as a few (true) capons 9/10 lbs) — Largest turky if I remember right was 55 lbs and the skallest was around 7/8 lbs — two of us cleaned the whole lot in about 12 hours”

“My third job in Vancouver British Columbia — My first lasted six weeks as I did not do the right hand shake — another story for over a pint — Second lasted about six months as they was pulling the building down, so went down the street and joined this lot — ended up running the place for the owners :)”

How I love these stories!

Laurence Green’s references to Cape food.

From his work HARBOURS OF MEMORY (1969), published by Howard Timmins, Green makes the following references to meat and food recipes.  Many of his best stories he got in bars, drinking with old folks and from magazines and old pamphlets he collected from flea markets.  He was a journalist and an author and I think, if I recall correctly, at one point wrote for the Cape Argus or Cape Times.  His word pictures are priceless.  Here are a few nuggets.

The secret curry powder

From The Road to the Harbour he writes, “Hungry seamen paid sixpence for pea soup or fish, a shilling for roast beef or steak. Many generous hosts provided bread, cheese and pickles free of charge. A favourite meal in many harbour taverns consisted of a plate of mulligatawny soup followed by sosaties and rice, curried fragments of mutton on bamboo skewers. This cost one shilling and sixpence, including a glass of wine.”

Curries of various sorts were favourite everyday meals in the seafaring quarter. If you passed down Waterkant or Bree Street between certain hours there were such pungent aromas of chillies and garlic, mustard oil and onions, that you might have been in Calcutta. Jacob Watermeyer, a Strand Street ship chandler, was the far-sighted businessman who transformed the curry and rice dishes of Cape Town. This remarkable episode brought him and his assistant a fortune. The master of a British sailing ship owed Watermeyer money for stores and he departed without paying the bill. Next time he called, however, the honest captain entered Watermeyer’s shop and announced: “I still can’t pay, but if you care to come down on board my ship I will show you something valuable.” Watermeyer and his assistant lunched in the saloon and were given the finest curry they had ever tasted. After lunch the captain handed them a list of ingredients and showed them how to mix the curry powder which had made the lunch memorable. I do not pretend to know the exact amount of turmeric, ginger, chillies and other spices that went into the powder; it was a secret recipe. No one could say that it was dominated by this or that condiment. It was a true blend, and compared with the other curry powders of the period it seemed to have an almost magical effect on soups, pumpkin, beans, crawfish or snoek, eggs, chicken and meats. The captain revealed to Watermeyer the whole secret process and gave him a sealed barrel of the curry powder. Watermeyer cancelled the debt, three hundred pounds, a substantial amount to write off in those golden days. He put the curry powder on the market in tins and Cape Town flocked to his store to buy more. Here was a powder with just the right bite. It gave a rich, almost mysterious stimulating quality to a thick stew. People glowed and perspired and declared that Watermeyer’s curry powder made them feel cool in the heat of summer. The assistant married Watermeyer’s daughter and inherited the secret. He built a store in Adderley Street far more ornate than the little ship chandler’s shop down on the waterfront. The store has gone but the curry powder survives and is still mixed just as that forgotten sea captain showed Jacob Watermeyer in the Indiaman’s saloon more than a century ago.

Few old people record their memories and I was lucky to hear the curry saga before the origin was lost. When an interesting person dies a whole page of the past is torn away. I am grateful to those who spoke to me and left their most vivid impressions

Picture from the Shambles – leopards and sand sharks

Leopards were still visiting the shambles at the foot of Adderley Street in search of offal when Hinton was a boy. Wharf Square, outside the old mainline railway station, was close to the wharf. The slaughterhouse, built long before the station, supplied meat to troops bound for India before the Suez Canal was built. Shortly after World War II an aged coloured man showed officials the door in this building where he had stood shovelling refuse into Table Bay. So many sand sharks gathered for the feast. that they called the place Haaibaai. Now the shambles has been demolished and the nearest sea is more than twelve hundred yards from Wharf Square.

Polony, existed from at least 1900’s with much older roots

“Butchers prepared fine mutton hams and polonies and these kept fresh in any climate. The polonies were a foot long, one inch in diameter, made of pork and other meats and fat with various spices; they were bound in bundles of twenty-four and sewn up in airtight bladders.”

See my article I did based on Greens description, The Origins of Polony.

Pigs in blankets were served as oysters, wrapped in bacon

About chef Luigi, he tells the following.  “So he served “pigs in blankets” (oysters wrapped in bacon and fried) or oysters au gratin, sole and oyster pie, oysters sweated in butter and served on hot fried bread, oyster soufflees, oysters with spinach, grilled oysters and fried oysters chopped and mixed with scrambled eggs.”

From Australia

The country of Australia holds some of the most iconic meat history.

Tim Westwood made me aware of this remarkable video.