Tom Chiarella had the perfect customer-butcher relationship—the shop near his home gave him good meat and good advice. But he wanted more. He wanted, as he writes in Esquire, to live on the other side of the counter, "to be a guy with answers." So his Indianapolis meat market let him throw on an apron and try his hand at trimming, grinding, and selling.
But being a butcher, Chiarella learned, is about more than quartered cows, chicken guts, and sharp knives. It's about more than meat, period. "You aren't a butcher if you can't deal with people." There were false starts: "My first transaction, stymied by a question about hamburger." But in the end, he became a butcher—at least for 6 weeks.