Tuesday, October 9, 2012

RR - Biggby and Beefsteaks

 "What size?" the Biggby barista inquired.  I order the largest available, because it's the best ratio of liquid per munch money.  My lack of sleep mixed with sugar and caffine combines into a joyful buzzed jittery awakeness as I casually sip.  I throw back the last swallow, and I hit a nose dive of overdose.  I have a caffeine crash, which could have been controlled with quantity limitations.
In American culture, there's this concept of excess being optimal.  More bang for the buck.  This is mentioned in Bich's Stealing Buddha's Dinner, when she talks about their family gatherings at buffets, and how they'd cram as much food in as possible.  In All You Can Hold for Five Bucks by Joseph Mitchell in Secret Ingredients, there are avid discussions on what is the proper fare and preparation for a Beefsteak, such as, "Day old bread is neutral.  When you lay steak on toast, you taste the toast as much as the steak." [8] Whereas another chef, Bob Ellis, believes in putting the "hamburger" on toast.  The cooks care so much about their presentation and taste, while for the participants it's about leaving being rolled out of the establishment.  The chefs take pride in having the best sauce made out of butter and Worcestershire, or what kind of bread they use to emphasize the flavor of the meat, or their use of hickory embers, or pride in their traditional crab meat cocktails and "some skewered kidney shells.  Lamb or pig--what's the difference?" [12]  Yet in the long run, it becomes more about quantity for the consumer.
At one point Beefsteaks were a primal affair.  If a man wanted noise he would just howl, whereas now there are noisemakers used as advertizements.  Modernization has replaced barrels with chairs, fingers with occasional silver wear, and your worst suit with aprons and hats that remind Mitchell of the Ku Klux Klan.  Don't forget narrow minded expectations, instead of expectant taste buds.  A woman came up to Bob Ellis, complaining first about how the meat was prepared like a burger, and then complaining about how the table didn't have ketchup.  I found this to be a dichotomy, seeing as the food isn't just presentation, but taste, and she would rather cover it up and have it look like something else.  After she left, he exclaimed, "Ketchup!  I bet she'd put ketchup on chocolate cake" [9] recognizing that even though she had expectations of a beefsteak, it was a commercialized one that didn't appreciate the finesse and undertones of a preserved culinary tradition.
The most I can try to learn is maybe next time to order the next size down, where they only need one tea bag instead of two, and where I only need the taste, not the quantity.  Or I'll continue to have my caffeine crashes at the same excess as Beefsteak goers and buffet lovers.  Either way, it's a lot to stomach.


  1. McKenna,
    I noticed this strange contrast too! Can you imagine what it would be like to go to a beefsteak? It made my stomach hurt to read about all of that red meat! Can't wait to talk more in class!

  2. "In American culture, there's this concept of excess being optimal. More bang for the buck"
    I'm so glad you picked up on this because I think that it is SO true!Especially the idea that a beefsteak was only five dollars, if you at yourself fuel it would be quite the bargain--but you're still going to be hungry again...eventually. Good point.