Butcher's Sign

In Bakhtiarov's worker-oriented trade history, the very sale of cattle is described as a "holy event," conducted in reverent whispers: "Despite there being hundreds of butchers and dealers, silence reigns among them and you would think that some sort of holy event was taking place."


Petersburg Delivery Man

Bakhtiarov's Belly of Petersburg

The carcasses and the better cuts of meat were distributed to the 1020 meat shops in Petersburg, to be sold on site or at the many open markets around the city. Trained butchers would first cleave the carcass into two equal parts down its middle, then divide each side of beef into 20 cuts, graded 1-5 for quality. Meat fresh from slaughter was never sold, considered too tough and raw to be digested; rather, it was set aside for a few days until the process of spoilage had just begun, when it was considered at the height of flavor. (As Bakhtiarov notes in The Belly of Petersburg, only "savages" eat meat fresh from slaughter.) Customers would, finally, place orders with their local butcher, who would make deliveries to their home. From the field to the dinnertable, a single cow would have been handled by dozens of workers-farmers, herders, brokers, inspectors, slaughtermen and butchers.

Return to Nikolaevsky Station Return to the Stockyard Next: the Slaughterhouse