Friday, February 1, 2008

MEAT ME IN THE MORNING

There was an interesting article on a bit of gustatory sociology in Wednesday’s NY Times regarding the “Beefsteak” phenomenon in Northern New Jersey.

“Beefsteak,” not as in a cut of meat, but as a celebratory get together where folks previously gathered at a restaurant or other venue to basically eat meat of all kinds, virtually nothing but meat, washed down with beer, with no silverware or other refinements, thank you, immediately called to mind that great essay “All You Can Hold for Five Bucks” by New Yorker writer Joseph Mitchell. Mitchell described Beefsteaks as a delivering a staggering array of meats (mini-hamburgers, lots of them, followed by kidneys-wrapped in-bacon, followed by tenderloin steak dipped in butter, washed down by beer, followed by more and more of the above, in virtually limitless quantities..Beefsteaks were often attended for political purposes, by Tammany Hall Club and others, as well as labor unions, and by businesses, just for a good time, primarily by men.

So, we have meat and we have misogyny, or at least male chauvinism.. Not politically correct by any means, but not without its peculiar charms.

Maybe because it is Super Bowl Weekend, and folks (not me, but folks) are out there shopping for their ribs, BBQ sauce and chipotle, and warming up the 52” flat screen LED or plasma TV, , and truth be told, I am not really much of a red meat eater, but there was something interesting, something that stirs a visceral yearning, and plucks a feral chord, in some guys, with the thought of hanging out around a table with a bunch of guys, whether in Northern New Jersey today or in Hells Kitchen in the 1940s, wearing a paper chef’s apron and hat (on which to wipe the grease from your hands, since you don’t use napkins or silverware) , as you savor your 15th or 18th tenderloin slice, stacking up the uneaten bread on which the tenderloin is served (better to save room for more meat), and quaff a little more beer, without worrying how I will explain it all to my wife or internist.

Anyway, here is the NY Times article on Contemporary Northern New Jersey Beefsteaks (be sure to watch the video):

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/30/dining/30beef.html?pagewanted=3&_r=1

The Upcoming Beacon Restaurant, 8th annual Beefsteak (& Fundraiser) in New York City (looks like fun). This posting also includes a link to an excerpt of the original New Yorker article by Joseph Mitchell on “All You Can Hold for Five Bucks”: Read it and run out to buy Joseph Mitchell’s fantastic collection Up in the Old Hotel. (Vintage Books)

http://www.beaconnyc.com/pdfs/beefsteak.pdf

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Current Reading

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