I’m lucky. I live within a three-minute walk of Sanagan’s Meat Locker, the überbutcher of Kensington Market, so the world of salty-sweet, irresistible, melt-in-the-mouth, top-flight charcuterie is within daily reach. Grant Van Gameren’s lonza and bresaola? No problem. A selection of wicked terrines? Bien sur. But for the millions of artisanal charcuterie lovers in Canada who do not share such blessed geographical coordinates there is now the Carnivore Club. It’s basically a meats-of-the-month start-up. Pay them $50 a month and they will send you a monthly selection of excellent charcuterie. They were kind enough to deliver a typical box to me last week so I could see what’s up. There were six treats in the box – bona fide Iberico pata negra ham; a whole rustic Tuscan salami; a thick slice of a chunky but surprisingly subtle Quebec pork paté; some good bresaola; some really good culatello with all sorts of funky, juicy flavour going on; and some Iberico chorizo that I intended to use to add meaty pizzazz to a rustic-Portuguese-style potato and cabbage soup but ended up eating with my fingers while standing in the kitchen listening to Cross-country Check-up.
Reading the fine print of the Club’s accompanying literature, I discover that the two founders, Tim Ray and Matthew Cloutier, are building their business along post-modernist collective lines as a crowd-funding project. In other words, like condo developers or the wannabe high priests of a new religion, they are pre-seeking a congregation of carnivores who will pledge support online and on-trust and bring their brainchild into being. Making the flesh flesh with their chanting, I suppose you could say. We are invited to go to Indiegogo.com – www.igg.me/at/carnivore – where we can pledge as little as $2 as a show of basic support, or $500 if we wish to be celebrated as a King or Queen Carnivore, receive 12 months worth of boxes and a free, limited-edition T-shirt.
Or you can have a closer look at the company at www.carnivoreclub.ca and then make up your mind. Is it worth it? I found the quality of the charcuterie to be close to the freshly sliced standards of Sanagan’s and far above that of your average supermarket. And pata negra isn’t easy to find. Check it out for yourself, gentle reader, and let me know what you think.