Carneceria Meat Market

Can I help you?

Something many foreigners have a hard time getting used to is buying meat. If you didn’t grow up on a farm then likely your version of meat is those neat little Styrofoam and plastic wrapped containers you find at the supermarket. Now, if you happen to live close enough to a larger supermarket like Jumbo or La Sirena then you can continue to view your meat as always sold in those neat little packages, but for the rest of us in the Dominican Republic…

Welcome to the Carniceria, The Dominican Meat Market!

Now, just to put this to rest, that angry looking guy in the image to the right, That’s Just for show!. Yes they do actually use machetes for just about everything including cutting meat. However, this guy is the owner of one of the meat markets in Fantino de Cotui and is actually very nice.

It’s not just about the Meat!

Well, it is just about meat, just not what we would always call meat. If you look closely in the picture you will see that there are hooves of, well something, on the counter. It also isn’t strange to find goat heads, cow heads, pig heads, you get the picture. Most carnicerias sell chicken, pig, and goat meat as well as beef. You can also find a lot of the other body parts that are not as frequently used in the States (well, except for in Hot Dogs).

Choose your Chicken!

Chicken is also a little different experience. At times they already have several chickens slaughtered, other times you can pretty well pick your chicken which is running around in the back of the store, they catch it, take it out back and 5-10 minutes later after the bird is killed, bled, and plucked it comes back to be chopped up with a machete, you pay a little more per pound if you want the innards cleaned out. A word of warning, stand back as they start chopping, or expect to get spattered!

Most places bleed the chicken properly, but if you notice the meat is pinker than normal you might want to ask them to try again and this time bleed the chicken longer.

Bleeding the animal is also a problem with pork. Most pork you find in the meat local meat markets is not properly bled. Many Dominican like the blood to remain in pork so the animal is often strangled or killed without bleeding it afterward. This goes the same with the locally produced sausage (not the stuff you buy packaged like Induveca which can have its own issue, see Consumer agency lowers official Salami standards). Blood sausage is very popular here and is frequently sold in the small meat markets.

When to buy the meat

With chicken you can pretty much buy it at any time and request that they slaughter a fresh one for you if you are not sure how long it has been sitting there. That is a little tougher with beef. Usually it is best to get there first thing in the morning to be sure that it has not been sitting out in the sun long, and hasn’t been covered with flies. It is also a good idea to clean the meat off after you get it to be sure that bacterium from the cutting process hasn’t contaminated the meat.

People are still learning sanitation here so it is always best to be careful. Look over the meat to make sure it isn’t off colored. As I mentioned before it is a good idea to clean the meat before you cook it. If you like hamburger, it might be a good idea to buy that at the larger supermarkets that have a higher standard of cleanliness or buy cuts of meat that you can clean and then grind it yourself. Of course that is up to you, many foreigners figure that the cooking process will kill anything on the meat, so this is sort of a matter of debate.

Then there’s the Smell

Ever walk into a butcher shop in the States? Probably. Not always the best smelling place was it? Now consider that the place you walked into was no doubt bleached and cleaned thoroughly on a regular basis.

Now take that smell and put it in a hot humid environment. I think you can imagine where I am going with this. Let’s that this is another good reason why you probably want to do your meat shopping in the morning.

But is you are living in the Dominican Republic this is all part of the experience. The Dominican Meat market – the Carniceria – A good barbeque starts here!