The definitive book on steak has never been written-until now
"Of all the meats, only one merits its own structure. There is no such place as a lamb house or a pork house, but even a small town can have a steak house." So begins Mark Schatzker's ultimate carnivorous quest. Fed up with one too many mediocre steaks, the intrepid journalist set out to track down, define, and eat the perfect specimen. His journey takes him to all the legendary sites of steak excellence-Texas, France, Scotland, Italy, Japan, Argentina, and Idaho's Pahsimeroi Valley-where he discovers the lunatic lengths steak lovers will go to consume the perfect cut. After contemplating the merits of Black Angus, Kobe, Chianina, and the prehistoric aurochs-a breed revived by the Nazis after four hundred years of extinction-Schatzker adopts his own heifer, fattens her on fruit, acorns, and Persian walnuts, and then grapples with ambivalence when this near-pet appears on his plate.
Reminiscent of both Bill Bryson's and Bill Buford's writing, Steak is a warm, humorous, and wide-ranging read that introduces a wonderful new travel and food writer to the common table.
Slate columnist Schatzker's journey through more than 100 pounds of steak begins with a single, fondly remembered bite from his past and takes him, years later, to eight countries on four continents in pursuit of flavorful beef. Chapter by Dionysian chapter he probes the myths and minutiae of tasty beef. Does marbling (the small white dots and curls of fat spread throughout a steak's red flesh) matter more than breed? Is a stressed animal less tasty? Can words accurately describe the flavor of beef? In Texas, Schatzker compares corn-fed to grass-fed rib-eyes; Scotland is mostly about the Angus bulls, while Japan provides the lure of its famed kobe and Wagyu beef. Lessons from each new location build upon those from the last, underscoring his major concern: do modern practices of commercial breeding and production sacrifice quality for quantity? Schatzker writes with a discerning eye, an inquisitive mind, and a comedic sense of timing that keeps both shop talk (reading cow pies), and the esoteric (the mysteries of umami) from numbing readers' minds. On the way to a unifying theory of steak, Schatzker even raises his own cows for slaughter, leading him to the Zen-like revelation that "the secret to great steak is great steak." No matter. Steak is easily one of the most entertaining and informative noncookbooks about beef.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Great book but left out one thing
Don't get me wrong, I throughly enjoyed this book. In fact I liked it so much I ran out to buy a Tallgrass steak featured in the book and thats when I realized the author left a a major point; grass fed beef is really, really expensive. It's at least twice the price of a regular corn fed steak and three times today's special. The popularity of corn fed beef isn't so much the homogeneous taste we've been "trained" to enjoy and instead it just costs a lot less - a lot less.
Ok I'm writing this on my Ipad and can probably afford the difference and sometimes I can do with without a $100 bottle of wine when a $33 one will do.
Explore the tastes and world of beef
I was in Las Vegas with some friends, and for dinner we decided we would go for a great steak. We settled on the Delmonico due to Emiril's reputation as well as reviews. The $60 price for my aged ribeye was daunting, but all indications that this would be a great steak were good. The steak arrived sizzling and looked perfect. I cut into it to find a perfect medium rare. I took the first bite anticipating it's beefy goodness. It tasted... Meh. How could such a gorgeous piece of meet taste so empty? I was confused, disappointed, and a little angry.
If something like this has happened to you, this book has answers for you. If you have had an amazing steak experience that you fail to repeat again and again, this book has answers. Your quest for a great steak will not be an easy one however.
This book was entertaining, educational, and a fun read. Highly recommended if you are a foodie.
Almost a Religious experience
What a great book. Living in Wyoming and from a ranching family eating steak is almost a sacrament. If you want natural grass fed beef at a much cheaper price purchase your steer on the hoof arrange with a custom slaughter house to have It processed, aged and packaged up for you. Ask the butcher to cut It western style, more steaks.