My pace quickens as we near the building, the sounds emanating from behind the glass doors to Findlay Market calling us in. The door swings open, and I hurry in behind my mother, trying to escape the sticky air that haunts Cincinnati in mid-summer.
The sweet funky smell of curing meats hits my nose before my eyes have a chance to adjust to the scene: a long hallway of cases upon gleaming cases offering every kind of meat imaginable, displayed in its natural glory—giant slabs of bacon, uncut oxtails, chicken feet, whole ducks. It’s years before I’ll cook these strange items myself, but even as an adolescent I can tell this place is special: It offers not only a taste of the unknown, but also a taste of the Old World, of butchers and fishmongers and pastry chefs that used to be our ancestors’ only connection to fine foods, long before the words “organic” and “foodie” entered our vocabulary. I linger awhile longer by the cheese case, admiring the perfectly round balls of fresh mozzarella and the spidery blue veins of the Gorgonzola. (more…)