I have a confession. Well, it’s not much of a confession to those I’m close to. I am amongst the carnivore variety these days. For some it evoked a “Hooray! Now we can go anywhere to eat!” and for others it’s “Really?…Why?” I won’t go too much into ‘why’ of it other than it was recommended by my Chinese doc back in December. It was a horrific thing for me to even fathom. But slowly I had fish then chicken…and then more chicken. Once my body had had a taste of this avian variety, I could not get enough of it.
Last week, I felt very lethargic and had no energy to do anything. I’d teach a class and felt spent. By the end of the week, I knew something was wrong when it didn’t go away and decided to see my Chinese doctor. He said I had the “flu”. Some things have no translation and “flu” is best word for whatever it is he’s diagnosed me with.
This week, I suddenly had a craving for steak. I wanted bloody red meat. If you had told me this just a month ago, I would have been completely repulsed by the idea…and have been ever since I’ve been vegetarian. This is definitely one of those times where I even surprised myself.
Today, I decided to do it. I went to Gelson’s where I knew there would be good quality meat and befriended a butcher named Ramon. He happened to be putting out packaged meat while I was at the section and I started to sheepishly ask him which cuts were most tender. He said that all the meats here are very tender, organic and of high quality. He’s tried all of them. And, he’s worked there for 17 years. Now that’s my kinda butcher: knowledgeable and passionate about his trade. So I decided to confess to him: “I’ve been a vegetarian for 6 years and just recently started eating meat again. It’s probably been 10 years since I’ve had a steak. Can you recommend something?” He stood like Captain America with his chest puffed out, fists on his hips and said “I’ve got the perfect steak for you!”…he didn’t really stand like that, but looking back he might as well have. He asked me what price range I was looking at and I said it didn’t matter…I mean, if this is going to my FIRST STEAK IN 10 YEARS, it better be fucking good. So he confidently told me that he was going to cut something for me and assured me that I’d enjoy it very much. He adjourned to the back and returned with a USDA Prime Beef Rib Spencer Steak at 26.99/lb. There’s no context for me to put any of this information in, but the color of the steak was nice and red and it was a nice size. He told me to cook it in a pan: a little cooking oil, 3-minutes on each side, covered (the fat will help cook it). He also generously sent me home with rub for Spencer.
As soon as I got home, I gently took the plastic wrap off of Spencer and started to put the rub on. I wore my mala and started singing the Triyambacam mantra to Spencer and blessed him and thanked him for his life so that I could be nourished. I also hoped that in return, by ingesting Spencer, I could help raise his spirit up. I gently laid Spencer down in the pan and covered him for 3-minutes on each side.
The time had come. I placed Spencer down on my finest China, sat down at the kitchen table, cut a piece off and ate it. YESSS! This is what my body needs. The combination of juices, texture, and seasoning was a celebratory explosion of fireworks for my taste buds and the feel-good electrical impulses in my brain. Each bite was a celebration. The glass of California red wine and arugula salad I fixed for myself was a waste of time. The loaf of rustic bread, still hot from having just come out of the oven was only a good compliment because of its ability to soak up the pale red juice that flowed onto my plate from each cut.
Never would I have thought of appreciating a butcher so much. To all the butchers out there who are passionate about delivering good quality, I commend you. My Spencer steak was just under half a pound at $12.69. I chuckled once I had finished my meal and realized the last two digits of the price and felt it as being appropriate for such an experience. (Yes, that was my sorry attempt at ending this with a sexual joke)