Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Steak - a book review

                               Steak- One Man’s Search for the tastest Piece of Beef.

Mark Schatzker is an award winning food and travel writer who decided to get to the bottom of the Steak Problem. The King of Meat was tasting lousy. Has modern agriculture bled the flavor out in the name of efficiency and profit margin?   
Schatzker journeys the world in his odyssey across four continents and six countries seeking fellow steakophiles to guide him to great cuts of beef. Starting in the industrial feedlots of Texas, the source of the problem; to France, Scotland, Italy, then Japan for their famous Kobe beef, down to Argentina to experience beef grilled over open hardwoods. Finally to Colorado where we learn why grass fed cattle is the only way to produce beef. We met Temple Grandin and her work changing the way animals are slaughter. Grandin, autistic, has changed the way animals are treated both in life and in death.  Schatzker even raised three cows of his own and had to come to terms with their deaths,
 “Fleurance’s last day was a cold Thursday in early December. I planned to make it her best. Inside [the barn] it was dark and I stood there inhaling the smell of livestock and stared into the black. I pulled my cell phone out of my pocket and used its glow from the display as a flashlight. She was waiting for me.  I had brought tins of Creemore Springs Lager and poured two in her feed bucket and offered it to Fleurance. She stuck her nose in, sniffed, then removed it, unsure. She stuck it back in but her nose was still dry when she pulled it out again. My plan was unraveling, Fleurance, I whispered, this is no time to refuse beer.”
A serious book for Foodies.  Very readable, both informative and fun.  A great Primer for those interested in grass fed beef.  “Pollan-like” at times so we learn a lot beef production and the King of Meat - Steak. What other meat gets a structure named after them?  We go to Steak Houses, not pork houses or order a 2 inch Haddock.  Steak rules the droll.
Schatzker with the help of Allen Williams, and Bill Kurtis of Tallgrass Beef Company explains the fine art of feeding grass to cattle. Much like growing fine grapes for wine, it takes a required skill and amateurs abound using the term - "Grass Fed." Schatzker’s best steak was grass fed and so was his worst.  But grass fed is the only way to go, in the hands of a virtuoso, crazing on grass allows the cow to live outdoors under the sky and not in an overcrowded, disease-ridden feedlot waiting to be march merciless to slaughter.
Its the meat- not the sauce that makes a great steak dinner.

Rating:  an 8+ A MUST READ, on par with a Michael Pollan but below a Rowan Jacobsen.   Keep a tissue nearby as his meal descriptions will produce droll for obsessive carnivores. 

Steak    linked here to

more to come.....

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