Rub-a-dub-dub! Three men in a tub..


Rub-a-dub-dub! Three men in a tub,
And who do you think were there?
The butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker,
And all of them gone to the fair!


Why of any three men, the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker you may ask…

Was it random? Were they the poet’s favourite uncles? Were those the first 3 people the poet saw walking down the Sunday market that fine day he decided to pen this rhyme?

Well, there are many versions to this rhyme but if you ask me I think it’s because these 3 represent respectable tradesmen of their time and heads of their respective guilds. Practical men. Respectable men. Men who provide the basic necessities to the common folk such as – food on the table, bread in the stomach and light by which to do work at night.

So, why is it then that butchers are a dying profession..? 2 months ago I watched on TV as Gordon Ramsey went out to the streets of London and asked people “Where do you buy your meat?” and the overwhelming response was ‘ the supermarket’. I think here in Malaysia, though people still go to the wet market for their meat, the situation is much the same as the UK, where the numbers of butcher going citizens are now lower than say 10 years ago.

I also remember my Ahmah (grandma) in Ipoh going to the local butcher shop with me, when I was very young, but later in life I could not for the life of me, remember her going anymore. Is this due to the convenience of ‘one-stop’ grocery shopping in the comfort of air-conditioning offered by mega supermarkets? Is it the pampered younger generation preferring not to smell blood and see the gore but instead pick from the dainty, sterile cling-filmed and styrofoam-bottomed pre cut meats that sit on supermarket shelves? Less hassle, less mess, less smelly yes.. but the quality and choice may be inferior to that which is offered by a good butcher.

Is it the cheaper prices of the supermarket proving to be irresistible during these times of economic crisis?

Is it the fear of the butcher himself asking too many questions such as – What section of the pig? “Kei Tor Kun”? (how many kilos?) and you not knowing how to answer (this is ME in a nutshell.. can hardly think fast let alone answer fast in Cantonese.. gulp!). Perfectly cut cuboid meat sitting on refrigerated shelves cannot embarrass you by barking out questions or yelling at you to hurry up and get out of the way of other meat buyers, for sure.

Is it because the butchers themselves want a better life for their children and though the trade that has been past down from their grandfathers, and their grandfather’s fathers to them is great and respectable and all, at the end of the day, they would just rather their children grow up with glossy Certs that declare Lawyer, Accountant or Doctor.

Anyway, you may be wondering where I buy my meats.. Hmmm.. well although I look like a ‘siew-chair’ (prissy lady! hahaha) I actually buy my Pork (and chicken) from the butcher at the wet-market simply because I hate that plasticky, back-of-the-freezer-with-all-the-forgotten-meats smell that comes with supermarket meats. No amount of marinade etc. etc. can mask it.

I love visiting the butcher! They look so manly hacking away at hunks of red meat. (Hunks of hunks .. hahaha:P). They are THE professionals in the meat industry. (Which reminds me of that line my Ahmah use to threaten me with “If you don’t study hard, you are going to grow up and marry a Mai Chee Yoke Low (butcher)!” erm.. so what’s wrong with that, Ahmah.. ?) The local butcher can supply retail meat with that added value because they know their customers, and best of all they know their meat.

Bottom line the end product tastes nicer from the local butcher, so I really don’t mind braving the screaming, jostling, elbowing aunties and even the expletives hurled my way when I cannot cough up the correct chinese words to order in time. Call me crazy but I am the one who carries back the bleeding chopped up meat in plastic bags.. not my other half:P

So here’s the Poll. Butcher Meat or Supermarket Meat .. which one do you buy?


  • Bobo says:

    100% butcher at the wet market. My favorite butcher in Taman Tun Ismail very stylo-milo. Wears a leather jacket over t-shirt, Rambo style. Very fresh meat!

  • CUMI & CIKI says:

    yup, i know which butcher ur talking bout – iv seen him! real poser.. got big body and knows it. Hairstyle like from the 60’s!

  • Precious Pea says:

    I switched from Butcher to supermarket lately. Don’t be mistaken though, i love going to wet market. I switch becos those butcher always try to cheat me and i found out, it’s quite expensive getting from them. Tesco sells good pork (really really good multilayer cut) and for sure i know i won’t be cheated for the weight.

  • CUMI & CIKI says:

    Jules! That’s the One.. hunky cougar! 😛 remind me of chipNdales

  • Life for Beginners says:

    Ah, but you didn’t marry a butcher, didja? Means you studied really really hard lor. 😀

  • CUMI & CIKI says:

    hahahaha:P cumi got 2me b4 the butcher! 😀

  • CUMI & CIKI says:

    now that is bad! which one is this so we can all stay away

  • "Joe" who is constantly craving says:

    haha i dont buy my pork..

    me buy beef only and sadly from the supermarket..

  • 550ml jar of faith says:

    While I would like very much to say that I buy from the wet market, I cannot tell a lie. Prob helps that I don’t really buy much meat, coz when I cook, it’s usually vegetarian 😛

  • Mellie says:

    Hmm…I’m very much a supermarket shopper. It’s true, less mess. Plus without all the signages, I can’t really tell which veg is which, and which meat is which. Embarrasing, I know.

  • Nic (KHKL) says:

    wet market when i have the time and hypermarket when i’m in a hurry.

    the siew yoke from the butchers in wet markets are fantastic too! sometimes, we’ll just buy, say RM5 of it and have it with our favourite nearby laksa stall. now that’s something interesting that hypermarkets dont provide.

    nice one, ciki! ;D

  • thule a.k.a leo says:

    but you didn’t marry any butcher in the end right??? hahahaha… I still think girls nowadays prefer guys who don’t smell like meat 🙂
    My wife and I also prefer out meat to be freshly chopped and ta pao into plastic… normally we will go to TTDI Wet Market, SS2 or Section 17 PJ…

  • fatboybakes says:

    btw, my uncle is/was the president of the pork sellers guild of kuantan…ahem…

  • CUMI & CIKI says:

    how come ah.. since u eat so much pork?! 😛

    so green.. good gal!

    lol.. same here.. when i go to the market, i have a set number of things i know how to order, otherwise just point and hope for the best 😛

  • CUMI & CIKI says:

    totally agree. Won’t give up the wet, stinky experience for anything!

    how do u know i didn’t marry a butcher.. ?(.. a baker.. a candlestick maker.. :P)

    so, who’s the candlestick maker in the family? (coz u obviously already have 2 out of 3:P:P)

  • mimid3vils says:

    Never buy ant meat at wet market, scare cheated by the butcher 😛

  • Big Boys Oven says:

    something interesting!

  • CUMI & CIKI says:

    lol.. i know the feeling. bring a older family member with you – they normally are v good at handling wayward butchers!


  • fatboybakes says:

    hahahah, precious pea got tiokked by her butcher….

  • CUMI & CIKI says:

    so mean! laughing at pea:P:P should hv visited ur uncle lar eff bee bee..

  • babe_kl says:

    wet market definitely for me and i usually deal with the butcher’s wife! haha and i always get extra stuff even though i dun buy pork often. pssst my secret was to fed her wid some homemade cupcakes 😀

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