A year ago, my little hobby, what Dennis called my “meat thing,” connected via Twitter with Kim Foster’s curiousity and a cheeky title, to become Charcutepalooza. It just happened in a crazy stroke of synchronicity. And then… along came sponsors, Food52, a huge grand prize, and, suddenly, there were all of you.
Kim and I, we’ve come to know you this year. And you’ve come to know each other. Your blog posts, photos, questions, comments, your Facebook and Twitter participation, it’s all brought you into our lives and we’re a little bereft at the thought of saying goodbye.
The last few days, reading all your posts, has been incredibly affirming. We knew you were into it, but, wow. Until a year-full of posts were digested, we didn’t know how Charcutepalooza would be changing lives, stirring up memories, creating new relationships, bringing you to career decisions, and building enduring friendships.
I’ve avoided writing this post. You should see the tasks that have been accomplished in the avoidance. My closets are so orderly. Even the pantry is tidy. The larder jars are lined up perfectly. The ironing is all done.
You see, I don’t want to say goodbye to the Year of Meat. It’s been the most remarkable experience. A year ago, if you had said 2011 would have me skinning a beef tongue, boiling trotters, handily breaking down a lamb shoulder, learning charcuterie and butchery in Gascony, and fearlessly serving cured meats to friends, family, and members of the press … well, I would have said you were crazy.
More than anything, I never would have believed 2011 would bring me so many new friends. Cooks and chefs and meat-mavens who have my utter respect. What you all do is extraordinary. Thank you for bringing it each and every month.
There were cross-cultural bahn-mi, are-you-kidding-me pierogies with duck confit, and the most beautiful mousseline transformed to ravioli. There were the stories – couples working together, friendships forged while conquering casings, a family’s final Thanksgiving, memories of a Croque-Monsieur. There were glorious condiments, stunning photography, and more.
I get it. Charcutepalooza changed my life, too. I will be conscious of the meat on my plate, and ask its history. I don’t see a reason to eat meat that has been slaughtered thoughtlessly. I have adopted and embraced the seed to sausage view I learned in Gascony. And through the year, I’ve seen you all take on the same meaty responsibility – it’s the soul of a charcutiére.
I like to think we have all grown more conscious, more compassionate. I see it in your writing – the grace and good will, your nose to tail talents in the kitchen, your ability to change the lives of people near you. Thank you all so much. It’s been such a pleasure cooking with you.
Let’s all give a big meaty thank you to our generous sponsors. D’Artagnan, offering substantial discounts every month, Barbara Kiebel, web maven, who saved my cracklin’s more times than I can count, and especially Kate Hill and Camont, Trufflepig, and Armagnac Casterede, planning the week of Charcute-folie for the lucky grand prize winner.
Forced to decide on six finalists, we couldn’t. We had to choose ten. The judges have these posts and are reviewing them now. Best of luck to the semi-finalists.
In our minds, you are all winners.
The next step.
On December 29th the two finalists will be announced on Food52. The Food52 community will be voting from 12/29-1/3, and the Grand Prize winner will be announced on January 4, 2012.
Congratulations to the ten semifinalists.
ACookBlog I bought Charcuterie when it first came out, mostly using it for whole-muscle cuts. Now I’m comfortable and confident with pretty much any technique, and it’s a regular part of my life. Charcutepalooza gets the credit for that transformation. – Peter Barrett
BiteMeNewEngland Charcutepalooza has changed the way I cook. It has given me the confidence to cook or make just about anything. It made me into a fearless home cook. It also allowed me to meet a group of amazing people. – Janis Tester
ButchersApprentice This year of Charcutepalooza provided challenges for hands and mind, encouraged creativity and perseverance, and sustained me through tough times. Relationships with friends, farmers, and family were strengthened, and new friendships with inspiring and generous charcuterie enthusiasts were born. My bottom line: making beautiful food for the people I love. – Iliana Filby
Dabblings&Whimsey My goals for participating in Charcutepalooza were to learn something new, challenge myself, try my hand at creating recipes, and have fun. I like to think I succeeded. In addition, I gained a new appreciation and respect for the art of preserving meats, and met some amazing people. Thank you. – Amanda Benoit
HoundsintheKitchen As a semi-experienced charcutier, I undertook Charcutepalooza to explore food writing through meat curing. I recorded each challenge in a unique format from fiction to opinion to humor to video. In stretching my skills, I experienced how difficult and rewarding it is to write about a meaty subject. – Rachel Tayse
InspiredByWolf Two themes stand out in summing up my Charcutepalooza experience: knowledge, and community. Charcutepalooza let my knowledge develop and put a structure around my meat curing efforts. Also, I have been amazed at the power of the Charcutepalooza community. It is an informative, friendly, supportive and wonderful place to be. – Kirsten Wright
Naomaly As a newcomer to blogging and twitter, it was amazing to witness the bond formed within an online community of strangers, who entertained, assisted, and inspired me to levels of culinary achievement I never dreamed possible. Also, I learned how to clean chunks of meat off my ceiling. Naomi Lee Baumol
NicCooks Charcutepalooza has opened my eyes to the world of homemade meat. I have been very excited to learn how to make charcuterie from scratch. It has also introduced me to a fantastic group of people with whom I shall stay in touch with for many years post Charcutepalooza. Nic Midgley
OneVanillaBean I can’t believe I made it this far along. The year of meat that started with duck prosciutto, turned into more than I could have ever imagined. Making charcuterie from scratch has been incredibly fulfilling. I’m so very grateful for all I’ve learned and everyone I’ve met in this journey.- Cecilia Stoute
Vivek’sEpicureanAdventure Amazing. Unbelieveable. I was an amateur. I tried something new. Sometimes, I succeeded. Sometimes, I failed. But I always learned a lesson: Don’t be afraid. Get out of your comfort zone. Your community will support you always. Share what you love to do. Be respectful. Eat good and be happy. Vivek Surti