So, You Want to be a Meat Sommelier?
For all of us who have been at an Argentine asado, it’s become pretty clear that the locals not only love their meat but they know a lot about it as well. It’s not just some irrational passion either, they’re extremely knowledgeable about all things meat, from what cuts they prefer to the best way to cook it, and the best things with which to accompany it.
But there’s one that outdoes them all. You know the guy (or gal), the one that’s taken meat talk to another level of obsession? He’s usually in charge of the asado per se and can’t stop blabbing about the subject to anybody who will listen (and many who won’t). Well, we’ve got some news: that person will soon be able to say that they’re actually certified to dish out all that info. Introducing the School for Meat Sommeliers, only the second of its kind on the whole planet, following one in Austria, brought to you by none other than the University of Buenos Aires’s School for Veterinary Sciences.
The course, which begins this week, will last eight months (a total of 293 course hours) and is oriented toward the people involved in determining the quality of meat in Argentina: from butchers to restaurants and hotel employees, all the way down to customers who wish to dig even deeper into the intricacies of the industry.
As the description of the course states: “the determination of the quality of meat by the different actors in the chain is based on experiences, comments, assumptions, perceptions and even myths, which are not standardized, that is, each one thinks of the quality of the meat from their perspective, which means it’s not repeatable and in many cases they are far from helpful to determining the quality of it based on scientific reasons.”
The idea, in sum, is to follow the path that other major food elements have followed. Wines, oils, coffees, teas: they all have renowned sommelier programs that offer in-depth analysis of the crafts and that have helped industries flourish. Being a sommelier implies not only theoretical knowledge about the market and its history but also sensory analysis, training the palate for different flavors, training the nose for different aromas, colors, textures, and anything else that may factor in characterizing a product.
The complete curriculum includes 17 total subjects, including “Introduction to Sensory Analysis,” “Global Production of Meat and By-products,” and even something called “Gastro Physics and Neurogastronomy,” which seems like something closer to NASA. The course of study will even have extracurricular seminars imparted by invited professors from the National Institute of Quality and Origins (INAO) of France, which, you know, gives the whole thing an even classier feel (French accents will do that with almost anything).
The monthly cost for this venture is AR $4,250 for the general public, with discounts for UBA alumni, teachers and ex-students of the Veterinary School. So go ahead, call that guy (or gal!) or send them a message, let them know there is now a place in the world were they can get together with others just like them, talk meat non-stop, and even get a diploma in return. They might just give you a bigger portion of the prime cut during the next asado.