September 24, 2019
I love beef. I’ve loved it since I was 15 years old and ate a good steak for the first time.
Up until my mid-teens, the only meats we ate were either pork or chicken, because we hadn’t owned a home freezer and our meat sources were dictated by the methods we had available to preserve the product. Therefore, our home-butchered hogs were preserved in the smokehouse, covered with layers of salt that would keep the meat preserved for a year, until the next butchering took place. Chickens were preserved in the chicken house, on foot, and were harvested every Sunday morning with a sharp ax, feather-plucking fingers and a cast-iron skillet filled with lard.
New freezer, new lifestyle
With the extravagant purchase of a deep freeze, my family was finally able to butcher and preserve the product that we had been raising for a lifetime, and I immediately became a big fan. Steaks, roasts and ground beef became a staple of our diet, and we even quit raising hogs and chickens shortly thereafter. Since then, I have rarely eaten a meal that didn’t include some form of beef.
My wife is much more diverse in her diet and loves to sample different kinds of foods, especially when we travel. Judy loves seafood, so she was in hog heaven (or should I say, fish heaven) during our recent trip to Iceland, because fish and other seafoods are the staple of that country. Each evening would bring a new culinary experience, as we selected a restaurant at which to dine. Clams, shrimp, lobster, squid, octopus and several varieties of fish that I couldn’t even pronounce were on every menu, every night, and I was beginning to suffer tremors from the absence of beef.
Finally, on the fifth night, we ate at a restaurant that had a menu selection described as “delicious beef cut, topped with fried beet root.” I didn’t know to which cut of beef they were referring, but I was pretty sure it would be better than the catch of the day. I figured I could scrape off the beet root, so I ordered it.
When the waiter brought out our meal, Judy immediately started raving about the taste and texture of her fishy order. Admittedly, I had the shakes as I began to slice into this unknown cut of beef, because I hadn’t had a taste since we left the good old USA. As it turned out, I needed a good Stihl chain saw (freshly sharpened) to be able to cut off a mouth-sized chunk. After chewing on the same bite full for a good five minutes, I discretely placed it in the napkin and tried to slice a piece off another part of the steak, thinking it would have to be more tender. It wasn’t.
After 30 minutes, my wife started to critique her order of seafood, saying how delicious it had been and how she would love to ask the chef about his methods used in preparation. Then, looking at my plate of half-eaten meat, with small pieces strewn all across the platter, she asked, “How was your steak?”
“Surprisingly,” I replied, “the fried beet root was delicious.”
Let me revise my first line of this column — I love American beef.
Crownover lives in Missouri.
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