Thursday, March 10, 2011

A Peek inside a Meat Shop

Dusty D finds fascinating this little turn-of-the-century cut from the Normal News depicting the interior of the Banghart meat market at 207 Michigan Avenue (more recently TC Speakeasy's, though there was a street address renumbering around this time that might make the location slightly further up or down the street).

If we assume it is an accurate depiction of the meat market, let's see what you might have seen during a visit. There are some strings of sausages hanging at top left. Beneath them is a line of salami-type deli meats. The largest one appears to be head cheese. Beneath that is a suckling pig, and underneath is what resembles a ham. Dusty D can't tell if these meats are displayed in the open air or if this case is glass-fronted and somehow refrigerated in this era of iceboxes.

What appears to be a sheep [?] carcass is hung next to the meats. In the rear of the shop, the proprietor uses a hacksaw to saw off part of what looks like a section connected to ribs for a waiting female customer with a basket. Above the proprietor hangs a ham, with some additional larger cuts hanging in the rear of the shop. These are not refrigerated.

If this cut is from around the turn of the century, it's long before the building-wide refrigeration that only started to slowly become more common after World War II, with home AC trailing that. So DD is hoping this meat market had a quick turnover of fresh meats...and that they were cooked thoroughly.

2 comments :

Fritz said...

I think the left side shows a display behind the front window of the store. "Meat Market" would then be on the outside of the building. And the column in the center would be the left side of the doorway.

To my modern eye, it's an odd contrast to see the customer standing there in her fancy hat and dress while the the butcher saws off a portion of ribs.

Dusty D said...

Ah, I see what you mean; that seems reasonable. Yes, it looks like the front window, now that you mention it. Hmm, meat sitting in a sunny front window...a little scary sometimes to see the food safety practices of the past.