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The Bookshelf: Betty Fussell Wants You to Eat Your Steak Rare



September 17, 2009


Raising SteaksThe unflappable Betty Fussell graced us with her presence yesterday at Beard on Books for a rousing discussion of her book Raising Steaks and all things beef. After discussing the history of the beef industry, from small-scale butcher shops to industrialized slaughterhouses to the grass-fed future, Betty moved on to how Americans eat and think about beef. What has been the effect of industrializing the beef industry? A dulled and “timid” American palate, Betty claims. She believes we need to be re-tasting all kinds of beef from Wagyu to grass-fed, declaring that it’s time to “train ourselves to not just eat rib-eyes.” Where should we be doing this training? These days, restaurants and chefs have the best access to the choicest cuts and kinds of meat, because they can demand it. And they also can produce the best tasting meat because they have the heat sources to cook it properly. Betty implores us to order our steaks and other red meats “Rare! Rare! Never medium-rare,” to ensure the best flavor. Want to try it at home? Thanks to the Internet, you can now source your own great cuts of beef. Betty recommends checking out the website Eat Wild to learn about grass-fed meat and how to purchase it. When asked about the “primal satisfaction derived from watching people eat meat and chew on bones,” Betty replied, “Why do monkey’s like bananas?” There is definitely something biological and evolutionary about eating meat; humans have been eating it since the beginning of time. After going two to three days without meat, Betty feels a “vacuum when there is a protein absence.” If you feel yourself having the same intense cravings, try Betty’s meaty and satisfying recipe for Philly cheese steaks.