Aferin, aferin!

Grandmother tosses a piece of meat towards me. Plop! About one and a half kilos I suppose, with quite a lot of fat on one side. I put the knife on the meat at an angle. First I want to get rid of this fat. With an arching motion I throw it into a bucket. The rest of the meat I cut into small pieces.

Yesterday this cow was in the shed bleating its last bleats. Until the butcher came. A moment later blood streamed through the snow and plastic boxes were filled with organs, legs, slabs of blubber, the head. Mother and daughter were helping. They tore apart legs, carried away parts of the animal, sharpened knives and the axe.

This morning I found the beast on the kitchen floor and soon after that grandmother, mother and daughter were sitting on the floor around a round table to cut and chop the enormous cow parts. I would like to help, I say. That’s not necessary, mother says, and by the way, it’s rather difficult. True, cutting a rib cage or rump or leg into pieces, that might be too much for me, but in the meantime grandmother cuts big chunks of meat into small pieces. In my best Turkish I say: ‘Those small pieces I can do, shall I give it a try?’ They make room, I sit down cross legged, take a big knife. The box between grandmother and me is soon filled. These smaller pieces are for the family, the bigger pieces are distributed to poorer families in the village, just as tradition dictates.

I cut meat like never before. Around me pieces of rib cage, legs, shanks, a bucket of greasy offal, a box of scraps for the dog, and my foot gradually feeling wet from a small pool of blood. Grandmother is enthusiastic about my work. Aferin, aferin! (bravo, bravo!), she says again and again. A pan is put on the stove, the first load is prepared for dinner tonight. But then I don’t touch the meat. I’m still a vegetarian.

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