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Butchers play important role in Caymanian Christmas beef tradition

Christmas beef has long been an essential part of the Caymanian Christmas feast.

Many turn to their neighborhood butchers to secure their supply of stew meat, prime rib, or bottom round for the festive season.

“Every Christmas you can find us at this location,” said butcher’s assistant Buel Braggs.

For a few days each December, Mr. Braggs and butcher Gillard McLaughlin set up shop at the bend in Hell Road, providing the meat for many a Caymanian Christmas feast.

“It’s a tradition that we have had for over 20 years and we like to keep it going, you know,” said Mr. McLaughlin. “Me and Braggs comes on out here at 3 o’clock in the morning and sort of run through the entire day, which ends about 7 o’clock in the evening, just to serve the customers.”

“Christmas time is one of the days of the year that people are very very anxious to get their Christmas beef, and of course it is a time for me to get some thing back in my pocket from what I’ve actually spent over the months,” said Mr. Braggs.

Mr. Braggs told Cayman 27 the Christmas beef tradition is being picked up more and more by non-natives.

“Before it was just a Caymanian thing, but now we find out more and more, I mean, actually, I think it is more residents have actually been supporting us so far, even though I must say there was still a lot of Caymanians that passed through the store for the last day,” said Mr. Braggs.

Mr. McLaughlin said grass-fed, hormone-free local beef is in high demand, and not just at Christmas time.

Department of Agriculture statistics show the total number of cattle on Grand Cayman decreasing from 1,931 in 2011 to just 1,302 in 2017.

“There’s a lot more demand for it now, but I wonder how long we will be able to keep it with the limited amount of livestock that we have here,” said Mr. McLaughlin.

From sirloin to stew meat, Mr. Braggs and Mr. Mclaughlin, as well as other local neighborhood butchers, help bring the taste of Christmas to the dinner table.

“We already got compliments this morning that said, that’s the best beef that they’ve ever tasted,” said Mr. Braggs with a smile.

The National Trust says in the old days, beef was not an everyday item, and many families saved up money all year to enjoy beef for their Christmas festivies.

As Cayman grew, the tradition of Christmas beef has stayed alive and thrived, even in the fast-paced Cayman of today.

“The tradition of still placing your order early and knowing your butchers is still very much in effect, but now of course you also have the big supermarkets that also sell the local beef,” said National Trust Historic Programmes manager Rhonda Cornwall. “You can get your local beef from your supermarkets but people still prefer to go to their neighborhood butchers, because their butchers know them.”

The National Trust’s popular teen and adult cooking classes resume on 12 January, where participants can learn from the experts how to make an authentic Cayman style beef.

The class takes place from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and costs $25 per person. To reserve your space in class email projects@nationaltrust.org.ky

About the author

Joe Avary

Joe Avary

Joe Avary has been with Cayman 27 since 2014. He brings 20 years in television experience to the job, working hard every day to bring the people of Cayman stories that inform the public and make a difference in the community. Joe hopes his love for the Cayman Islands shines through in his informative and entertaining weather reports. If you have a story idea for Joe or just want to say hello, call him at 324-2141 or send an email to josephavary@hurleysmedia.ky

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