Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Beefsteak: A Tradition I Can Live With

In today's Times there was a charming article on the Beefsteak, a sort of beef-orgy that started in New York around the turn of the century then drifted over to New Jersey when it got bored of New York. The idea of the Beefsteak is simple. All the beef you can eat served on rolls. And beer. And you don't eat the rolls, you just set them aside. Like counters. To prove how much meat you just ate. Here's the original 1939 New Yorker article, and here's a quote:

I went to the kitchen door and looked out. A waiter would go to a table and lay a loaded platter in the middle of it. Hands would reach out and the platter would be emptied. A few minutes later another platter would arrive and eager, greasy hands would reach out again. At beefsteaks, waiters are required to keep on bringing platters until every gullet is satisfied; on some beefsteak menus there is a notice: ``2nd, 3rd, 4th, etc., portions permitted and invited.'' Every three trips or so the waiter would bring a pitcher of beer. And every time they finished a platter, the people would rub their hands on their aprons. Sometimes a man would pour a little beer in one palm and rub his hands together briskly. At a table near the kitchen door I heard a woman say to another, ``Here, don't be bashful. Have a steak.'' ``I just et six,'' her friend replied. The first woman said, ``Wasn't you hungry? Why, you eat like a bird.'' Then they threw their heads back and laughed. It was pleasant to watch the happy, unrestrained beefsteak-eaters. While the platters kept coming they did little talking except to urge each other to eat more.

``Geez,'' said a man. ``These steaks are like peanuts. Eat one, and you can't stop. Have another.'' Presently the waiters began to tote out platters of thick lamb chops.

Doesn't that just sound perfect? The New Yorker wrote another piece on the eighty-five buck revival of the esteemed Beefsteak in 2001. The best part is when the assorted diners strike up an impromptu version of God Bless America, showing once and for all that patriotism is directly correlated to beef consumption. Now, dear readers, I have something to live for!

No comments: