mr. palomar by italo calvino -- excerpt

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mr. palomar by italo calvino -- excerpt

Post by Guest on Sun Jul 10, 2011 2:33 pm

*an excerpt*

the reflections the butcher shop inspires in someone entering with a shopping bag involve information handed down for centuries in various branches of learning: expertise in meats and cuts, the best of cooking each piece, the rites that allay remorse at the ending of other lives in order to sustain one's own. butchering wisdom and culinary doctrine belong to the exact sciences, which can be checked through experimentation, bearing in mind the habits and techniques that vary from one country to another; sacrificial practice, on the other hand, is dominated by uncertainty, and what's more fell into oblivion centuries ago, but still it weighs obscurely on the conscience. an unexpressed demand. a reverent devotion for everything that concerns meat guides mr. palomar, who is preparing to buy three steaks. amid the marble slabs of the butcher shop he stands as if in a temple, aware that his individual existence and the culture to which he belongs are conditioned by this place.

the line of customers moves slowly along the high marble counter, past the shelves and the trays where the cuts of meat are aligned, each with it's name and price on a tag stuck into it. the vivid red of the beef precedes the light pink of the veal, the dull red of the lamb, the dark red of the pork. vast ribs blaze up, round tornadoes whose thickness is lined by a ribbon of lard, slender and agile contre fillets, steaks armed with their invincible bone, massive rolled roasts all lean, chunks for boiling with layers of fat and of read meat, roasts waiting for the string that will force them to enfold themselves. then the colours fade: veal escalops, loin chops, pieces of shoulder and breast, cartilage; and then we enter the realm of legs and shoulders of lamb; farther on some white tripe glows, a liver glistens blackly....

behind the counter, the white smocked butchers brandish their cleavers with the trapezoidal blades, their great knives for slicing and for flaying, saws for severing bones, pounders with which to press the snaky pink curls into the funnel of the grinding machine. from hooks hang quartered carcasses to remind you that your every morsel is part of a being whose living completeness has been arbitrarily torn asunder.

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