Thursday, June 10, 2010

Bullfight in Barcelona

This puzzle is rated PG-13 and touches a controversial issue.
We all heard about the Spanish tradition of bull fighting and have suspected it is still being practiced somewhere around the globe. Have you ever assumed you would witness one yourself?
Walking around Barcelona, my husband and I came to an intriguing castle that turned out to be Plaza de Toros Monumental, a bull fighting arena. We were fascinated to learn that it so happens that a rare bull fighting show is being held on the evening of the same day. Now, we strictly oppose animal cruelty. I stopped buying any leather or fur coats many years ago. My husband attempted vegetarianism but eventually we put a line at eating meat only once a week. Still, watching Corrida - Spanish bull fighting show - looked like once-in-a-lifetime-experience. It would happen with or without us. So, perhaps it is worth experiencing it. We bought the tickets, changed our plans and ambivalent about our actions, arrived to Plaza De Toros at 7.30pm.
It was a show: well-staged, acted, but disgusting and morally terrifying. In an hour during which our curiosity overstretched our guts, we saw four bulls masterfully killed right in front of our eyes. One was given a "parole" by the cheering crowd and the Presidente who looked like Don Corleone presiding over the show. I assume that at least two more bulls were killed after we left before the show was over. Six total.
I won't share the barbaric details of the process. It seems like this tradition is going away in Catalonia and perhaps in the rest of Spain. By observing it once most will alter their perception of Carmen's toreador and remove the imaginary veil of romanticism and heroism from bull fighting.
Apparently half of the meat from the killed bulls is donated to the poor and the rest is being sold to the restaurants around the town. Among the guilty nightmarish thoughts that occurred to me after the show was: what are the chances that we'll be eating meat from one of these six bulls served for dinner tomorrow? According to a recent survey, there are around 11,000 restaurants, bars and cafes in Barcelona. Say, each bull weights around 1,000 pounds. Assume that each meat portion is around half a pound. Dare to answer?

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Kim said...

There are six bulls killed - so three bulls worth to the poor, three to the restaurants. If the meat is 1000 pounds (I'm not sure if you meant the whole bull or just the usable meat, but let's keep it simple and assume it's the usable meat), then we have 3000 pounds of meat, or 6000 servings going out to the restaurants.

If there are 11,000 establishments that might be eligible, then we assume on average each gets about 1/2 serving. Not much. Further, since you only eat meat one night in seven, the odds of you ordering meat and then getting one of the bull fight portions, are pretty low.

Working out the details:

Let's assume that the average establishment seats 50 and does 3 seatings, or 150 people go through each night. With 11,000 establishments, that's 1,650,000 people served each evening.

6000 of those diners will get portions from the bullfights, or 0.36%.

Maria said...

Looks a bit consoling. Thank you, Kim!
Not that the other meat servings are coming from very different sources, but I did see these bulls eyes and their suffering.
Rest of the pictures are much more graphical, can't share them on the Family Puzzle page.

Tom said...

Sorry I got here late today. I will try to estimate without looking at Kim's estimate.

Adult bulls weigh 1000 to 2800 lbs (internet) depending on variety, and we don't know what they've killed here, but I'll accept the assumption of 1,000 pounds. I've actually been in a slaughter house (no fun). Lose the hide, innards, head, skeleton, and the remainder is much less, even if they do save the tongue, brain, some organs like liver and others, and donate most of that to the poor, or sausage...yuk, is this a math blog?
See also Less than half, most likely.

Six animals died, meat from 3 go to the restaurants, 1500 pounds each week. 11,000 restaurants maybe for this discussion (we can't tell how many are participating in this)? Wild guess of 4000 restaurants get some? Even if it's only 500 restaurants participating, they'd get 3 pounds a week. (this section/issue is the one we lack most information for). That's not efficient for the distributors -- not a math issue but a business guess. I'd lean toward guessing they distribute or sell an average of 50 pounds to 30 restaurants. Does that make more business sense?

So the odds of your even entering one of these restaurants is 3/1100. You're pretty safe. Try the fish. Oh, the octopus is good in Barcelona also.

Plus, it would be extremely rare (no pun intended) to serve today's kill tonight.


Tom said...

Ah. Twice in my "answer" I tried to insert links to wikipedia articles (on dressing out beef, and on aging of beef). Didn't work. Tom

Maria said...

Tom, you answer is pretty close to Kim's. Seems like one could be "safe" is a random tasting at a random restaurant.
Octopus was indeed very good. We met a couple from Manhattan in the amazing tiny restaurant named Cal Pep. They had baby octopus with eggs for breakfast, together with us enjoyed a wonderful restaurant speciality of garbanzo beans with baby octopus, and were musing of ordering baby octopus for dinner.

Regarding links, I found that one needs to use html code to insert them. Feel free to email me the links and I'll post or follow these instructions.

Anonymous said...

The restaurants that do use bullfighting product will advertise that fact, so you will know full well whether you are eating it. Also, it will be extremely tough meat, and likely only any good if ground.

Anonymous said...

Also, I was raised on a can figure on half the weight of the bull becoming usable meat

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