Venison, Restaurants, and Supermodels
Meat is made up of long muscle cells connected by a fairly tough substance called collagen (the same stuff plastic surgeons inject into the lips of supermodels to make those lips full and "pouty"). Collagen causes most meat toughness. Young animals have little of it between their muscle cells, but as an animal gets older, more develops. Natural enzymes break down this intercellular collagen as meat is aged, so the longer it hangs, the more tender it becomes. (Commercial meat tenderizers, such as papaya juice, do the same job-but natural aging is more flavorful.) This is why beef served in fine restaurants is aged a couple of weeks or more. It's also the reason a prime restaurant T-bone costs so much; it takes money to cool a large aging room.