In Spanish, the word for butcher is "carnicero," a musical sounding word with all the lilt of the term "ballarina."
But then Hispanic butchers like to think of themselves as artists. To get the right cuts - especially those thin-as-paper Mexican-style cuts - butchers need the touch of a Van Gogh brush stroke."I've been cutting meat for 35 years," says Andres Gurule of Springville. "I learned the trade in Utah, and I've learned that most of the cuts Hispanics like are the same as the Anglo Americans, but what comes in handy is knowing the Spanish names for things. When a restaurant owner comes in and begins talking about `el lomo,' you have to know what he means."
A "milanesa," for example, is the top round, or what's called "the goose neck" and if someone asks for "manteca," they want straight lard. Traditional Hispanics almost always use lard in their cooking.
As for Gurule himself, he's flat in bed these days. While boning out thousands of pounds of meat recently he injured his back. He just may not get back into butchering. But he does hope to stay in the meat business; perhaps as a buyer.
"I like working with my Hispanic customers," he says. "Mostly they're partial to chicken and pork. And they like tripe. Years ago I stopped asking how people can eat tripe.
"Not long ago a little Peruvian woman came in. She wanted a cut called `mata-de-hambre.' It's the skin off the hind quarter that we usually call the `elephant ear.' She liked to roll the pieces into cones - like ice cream cones - and fill each cone with everything from peas to parsley. She brought me some. They were great."
Gurule points out that times and tastes change in every community. Years ago he got a lot of requests for "chicharron" - or "bacon rinds" as we know them. But making pork cracklins isn't as popular as it used to be. More and more, Hispanics seem to be adjusting to the taste of North American meals.
During our interview, Gurule - who must make a major effort just to raise his head to have his picture taken - refuses to let melancholy get the best of him.
"Butchering has been a good career for me," he says. "I have no complaints. The companies I've worked for have been nice to me and customers have always been friendly and polite."
He thinks for a minute, and you can almost hear his thoughts ticking behind his eyes.
Finally he says: "I probably won't be able to go back to butchering. . . but then, you know, who knows?"