"Here is the chicken you will be enjoying tonight, his name was Collin. Here are his papers."
The server passes a file and photograph to a couple dining in Portland who then fire off a list of questions about this particular chicken served - location of the farm, the chicken's diet, whether the chicken had many other chicken friends, the restaurant's relationship with the farmer - eventually they decide to go and visit the farm in that instant and ask that the server hold their seats in the meantime.
This didn't happen. It's an episode of Portlandia, but is nevertheless a wonderful spoof on the local foods movement, humorous in its delivery, yet its content is believable and culturally relevant. Wanting quality local food is one thing, knowing where to find it and trying to match your values and taste preferences to a whole host of possibly unfamiliar terms is another thing, especially when it comes to meat.
The etymology of meat comes from the Old English word mete, meaning food in general or denoting important food in Old Frisian. Meat is the stuff of sustenance and the backbone of American cuisine, though its image has been vulnerable to each changing food and diet trend. Local meat producers are spending a large portion of their time educating customers about their practices, assuaging the fears and guilt of recovering vegetarians, and sampling meats like goat and lamb, once kitchen standards now eyed with skepticism.
A functioning local food system requires not only innovation, but restoration of lost food skills and farm infrastructure. Lucky for Bend, Chef Bryan Tremayne has done just that with his Primal Cuts Meat Market, which opened on Galveston Avenue just a few weeks ago.
"When I first moved here, I noticed that there was no butcher shop or meat market," says Tremaybe.
Opening Primal Cuts was a way for Tremayne to focus on his passion for cooking with meat while also filling an important gap for meat-savvy consumers and local meat producers. While Tremayne wanted to see high-quality and uncommon cuts of meat available for consumers, local meat producers hoped to find retailers more amicable to their product, which does not fit the quantity and consistency needs of large-scale grocers.
"I am able to work with that inconsistency because I don't have the overhead of the big grocery store, I don't have the bureaucracy," says Tremayne.
Primal Cuts not only offers a suitable retail location to local meat producers, but is able to add more value to their product in a way that appeals to a wider base of consumers and restaurateurs. Tremayne can purchase a whole pig from DD Ranch (Terebonne), for example, and turn it into sausage that local chefs would be interested in. This pig is otherwise limited to a few basic frozen cuts offered by the local butcher.
The aesthetics of Primal Cuts nicely blends the look of tradition and modernism with warm rust colored walls, tile flooring, a black chalkboard lining the rear wall with Tremayne's hand-drawn diagrams of cow, pig, goat and chicken meat cuts. A lone, tall black chair in each corner of the room tells us that this shop is not intended for dining or dawdling, it is simply a neighborhood meat market, something the westside desperately needed.
Primal Cuts is able to meet all of your summer barbeque needs, offering locally made spice rubs and, hot dog and hamburger buns from Dilluso, and will soon be selling beer and wine. The shop will also soon be smoking their own meats, so keep your eyes open for smoked ham, pastrami, bacon and more.
Primal Cuts exemplifies a refreshing balance of old and new, reinventing the old world neighborhood meat market, reconnecting us with our food source and offering that education we so desperately need today to not only make local habit, but make local work.
Primal Cuts Meat Market
1124 NW Galveston Ave., 541-706-9308. Open 11am-7pm, Tuesday-Saturday through end of July. Soon open seven.