specialty foods

JC100 Tribute: Visiting Julia Child’s favourite butcher

This post is part of a weekly series celebrating the extraordinary legacy of Julia Child leading up to what would have been her 100th birthday on August 15, 2012.

When I am in Cambridge I like to go to Savenor’s on Kirkland. It’s where Julia shopped and it’s about a five minute walk from her former house on Irving Street.

Savenor’s Cambridge is located at 92 Kirkland Street in Cambridge, MA

The Harvard Crimson reported that the store has been a family-run operation since its beginnings. When it opened in Cambridge in 1940, it was operated by Ron Savenor’s grandfather, Abraham. Abraham started the store after fleeing Lithuania, where he and his wife had a small food store. According to the Boston Herald, Abraham’s son Jack took over the shop when Abraham died a year after the shop’s opening, dropping out of a college pre-med program to become a butcher.

A picture of Jack Savenor appearing on “The French Chef” hangs at the front entrance

The turning point in Savenor’s history came when Julia Child and Jack Savenor struck up a friendship. Jack Savenor became Julia’s butcher and would provide items for Julia’s television program. According to MySecretBoston.com, Jack Savenor was a frequent guest on Julia Child’s “The French Chef.” The Cambridge Historical Commission quotes Jack (referring to her popular television show on which he appeared) as saying “How many geese do you think a guy could sell in a year? Maybe six, maybe seven. But the week after she works on the goose, I sell 65.” Loyal customers fondly recall times when they would find Julia in the store and would be peeking in her basket to see what she was bringing home.

Savenor’s is not your standard butcher. It carries antelope, lion, kangaroo, python, rattlesnake, turtle, black bear, buffalo, alligator and even iguana. But don’t be put off by this exotic selection of meats. You can also get more traditional fare like beef, chicken and pork as well as a wide variety of produce, cheeses, breads, herbs, spices, marinades and prepared food.

Courtesy of Living on Earth‘s website, loe.org

Its slogan is “The Best on the Block since 1939” and they truly are. Throughout the years, Savenor’s has been honoured by Boston Magazine, the Improper Bostonian and Boston Phoenix. And they’ve just done it again, having been awarded the title of “Best Butcher for 2012” by Boston Magazine.

Next time you’re in Boston definitely visit Savenor’s Cambridge store on Kirkland. Before walking into the store, direct your gaze down at the sidewalk. Ensuring her connection to Savenor’s would be forever preserved, Julia signed her initials and famous phrase “Bon Appétit.” 


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