There are many TV-series that are worth to mention. Many can make you forget the bills you need to pay, the trash that you still have to put outside, the laundry that still needs washing, the basket full of ironing and the huge pile of dishes that needs a soap attack but there are those rare gems that just to that one bit extra. There are directors who take the risk of trying to let you sense something that is very complicated.
Seven weeks ago, Thursday, we were able to tune in for witnessing the daily life in a butcher's shop. Seems not that thrilling. I must admit that I even forgot to watch the first episode. Suddenly my collegues stopped mentioning the weather, their kids, travel adventures and daily complaints because of this one hour of television they had watched last night! They had sparkles in their eyes!
So the following Thursdays I planted myself in front of that square screen to figure out what this was all about. Already at the very beginning you get hooked. Butchering is about meat and so they show you in the first copple of minutes exactly that but then filmed with high speed camera. The images are slowed down so the details are amazing! The freshly cut bacon, rolled burgers and chopped steaks make you already shiver. And the blood that flows gives you goosebumps! This all along with incredible music. Meat becomes an art and suddenly your local butcher gains more respect.
The storyline: a family business who tries to keep the bussiness exactly that but seems to fail desperatly at doing so. The wife who finds out that Viagra won't to do the trick with her mariage, two chopsteaks that make you walk through the woods, the 'bospoeper' (sorry non-Dutch speaking people I am not going to get in detail what this all about. There are amazing online dictionaries. So I challange you here!), a dog with a camera who changes all, the grandmother who hopes that all her children will get along and won't sacrifce all she worked her bud off for, the neighbour who can't wait to order his daily portion of sausages and wants to finds out the latest gossip, the shopassistant who falls in love with the son, the lost son who draggs along many secrets, the secret ingredient of the notorious sausage sold only once a year, the local sherriff who knows all the family secrets and tries to keep the family together, the daughter who hates meat and is married to a frustrated retired inspector.
The press states that the story line is so typical Flemish. This could take place anywhere along the Flemish roads. Many Flemish people seem to recognise these situations. We are known to stick to tradition, have the tendency trying to hide our real feelings, the battle between son and father, mother and daughter and the search for a real 'home' and recognition.
By episode five you suddenly start to love this place and know that you are in for a special treat. You start to feel close to these personalities. And by episode seven you don't want to let it come to an end.
Last night about two millions tuned in to watch the last episode and I made sure that my kitchen was clean by that time. It is hard to explain what the director managed to do. But the people who know a bit about some yearly traditions in a typical flemish village will be able to agree with me that what we got to see was so geniune.
In many villages in this rather greyish flemish corner there are still the yearly 'kermissen' or fairs . Then many families will come together for family lunch or dinner, there are fun rides for the children, pubs stay open very late, and on the first Sunday the 'koers' will take place. Local bikers will race through their familiar roads and are cheered on by their neighbours, friends and family to win the trophy.
It is that image that made me smile last night. The whole family cheering on their guy on wheels. Mike, the loyal butcher employee, made them realise what life should really be all about. He won the cup against all odds: overweight, deadtired after spending the whole night preparing the special sausages. Thanks to a special prepared piece of fruit he was able to go completely bananas on his bike.
In this scene I suddenly thaught back of the time that my little home village organised their yearly fair and all the sounds, colors and smells came back to me. Even the sun light I tried to recall. And the best moment of all was P who was sitting in his running outfit with a big smile on his face staring at the same scene. It was one of these nostalgic smiles that makes you wonder what is on his mind.
I just know one thing for sure that the next time I open the door of the butcher shop that I will smile for sure. And when the shop assistant has got tears in her eyes that I will still smile when she tries to convince me that she just chopped onions up for in the 'americain preparé'. To make up for her lost tears I will then order an extra pound of that meat prepared with love.
If you want to find out more about this rahter unique series you can check out: http://www.een.be/vanvleesenbloed