Mapping Meat.

Frank Jacobs has a Big Think post called The Many Ways to Map Your Meat; most of it is taken from a 2013 post by Daniel Brownstein called How Do You Map Your Meat?, and if you’re interested in the subject you should definitely visit that one as well, but I’m linking first to Jacobs because he has the paragraph:

“Pride of place in the complexity of meatcuts may go to the Austrians, whose division of the carcass into 65 pieces suggests the survival of local ingenuity and refined taste, even if it is also informed by a unique whole-animal ethos”, writes Brownstein. This map shows less than half of that total, but it already distinguishes between your Hüferscherzel and your Hüferschwanzel, not to mention the Kruspelspitz and the Kavalierspitz.

There are French, Spanish, and Austrian meat maps, and (in Brownstein’s post) a Greek meat map, so even if you’re not a carnivore you can enjoy the linguistic aspect. Thanks, Y!


  1. In the past I’ve seen maps comparing British and American practice (cow and pig, which will probably place me in the spam filter).

  2. David Marjanović says

    Austrian meat terms are srs bzns, so much so that some 15 terms are official differences in EU terminology for Austria vs. Germany.

  3. US v UK differences were also covered on separatedbyacommonlanguage, more by referring to Wikipedia and the comments than by original content.

  4. Many years ago I had the honor and pleasure of producing a catalog of beef cuts for a company that became supplier of some 40 percent of fresh beef sold in Ontario supermarkets. Abut 2,000 head of cattle met their maker every day. The company also had a significant export business, selling to such places as Japan and Jamaica.

    The catalog was produced in English and French and featured original photography for every cut. About 600 copies were initially made, each in a special binder designed to live behind the meat counter of a large supermarket. Nothing like this had previously been available in Canada; the federal ministry of agriculture requested many copies.In the end an additional several hundred copies were produced. I have one.

    The packing house was sold to Cargill about a decade ago.

    Nothing linguistic to add. But I had good fun putting it together and made a few dollars for my efforts too.

  5. Sounds like an interesting project to work on!

  6. These 2D maps are cool, but I know a guy who works as a geneticist researching beef improvement at a large agriculture school. When you have dinner at his house, not only is the meat the best you have ever tasted, but he can show you the recipe/protocol, the genotype, and 3D MRI scans of the steak or roast from several timepoints along it’s development.

    Some might call that too much information, but it was especially interesting for my children, who are now very aware of the origin of the hamburger they are eating.

    Sorry, nothing linguistic to add.

  7. Definitely an interesting project; led to another fun one along similar lines. The ‘director of meat procurement’ at the Canadian unit of A&P supermarkets brought me onto the team designing the packaging for an upscale line of frozen meats. The food photographer’s linen closet reminded me of a Pantone color book. On a good day the photographer managed to get in three good shots. I got to visit A&P headquarters in Montvale, NJ, several times, including one capped by a dash into Manhattan to hoover down a corned beef sandwich at the Carnegie Deli.

  8. You ate an entire corned beef sandwich from the Carnegie Deli? Respect. One of those used to feed me and my wife, often with some left over.

  9. Well, truth be told, I probably didn’t eat the whole thing.

  10. Alon Lischinsky says

    These 2D maps are cool

    Some of the maps (e.g., the French one) seem to use back-and-front displays to make up for the lack of depth in the maps. This is essential in styles of butchery that separate muscles, such as the psoas major, the abdominal muscles or the diaphragm, which don’t extend across the ribcage; this lovely Argentinian chart does the same.

    Me, I’d like to see more standardised use of anatomical terms to define typical cuts, but of course that’d go against the tendency to abstraction that Brownstein notes.

  11. @Alon Lischinsky: The phrase “styles of butchery” I found extremely disconcerting. I guess the reason is that I have never seen “butchery” used to refer to the work of literal butcher. To me “butchery” is a strongly negative term for large-scale murder. If I described my great great grandfather’s work to my grandmother as “kosher butchery,” I think she would be seriously offended. I’ve left work of the day, so I can’t check the OED, but now I’m curious whether “butchery” has a legitimate history meaning “the work of a meat butcher” or whether it was a neologism for the actions of mass murderers.

  12. No, it’s a perfectly good word in that sense; the AHD’s meanings seem to me in the proper order:

    1. Wanton or cruel killing; carnage.
    2. Something botched; a bungle.
    3. The trade of a butcher.
    4. Chiefly British A slaughterhouse.

  13. In fact, I must have heard it used in that sense reasonably frequently, because it didn’t ping my usage radar at all in Alon’s comment.

  14. The OED1 (1888) gives the historical order of the senses as the AHD’s 4, 3, 1; no doubt AHD sense 2 will show up when the OED3 reaches the word. There are some obsolete senses, like ‘butchers as a group’ (with the) and ‘a place of torment’. It’s direct from French boucherie, which shares some of these meanings.

  15. Alon Lischinsky says


    I guess the reason is that I have never seen “butchery” used to refer to the work of literal butcher.

    I ain’t no native speaker, but the sense seems to be reasonably well-attested in contemporary English; roughly one in five instances in a random sample in COCA were of this sort (and one in twenty have the AHD meaning 4, which may be reason to reconsider the chiefly British label):

    It saddens my heart to know that the arts of butchery and charcuterie are dwindling away
    Young chefs are joining in, learning butchery and fermentation, putting up chowchow and piccalilli
    Pig butchery and sausage making
    Other horse bones showed no evidence of butchery but had distinct gnaw marks

  16. Rodger C says

    @Alon Lischinsky: A poem worthy of Ern Malley.

  17. Alon Lischinsky says

    @Rodger C: Stan Carey does book spine poetry; why wouldn’t concordance poems work?

    (In all fairness, I was trying to use a <ul> with four <li>s; I never know exactly what mark-up will end up being stripped.)

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