Thursday, April 30, 2015
We live in a cow town... literally.
Lewistown Montana is a farm
community surrounded by ranches
filled with acre upon acre of cattle.
Those black beauties stand along
the side of the road on the other
side of the fence alluringly waiting
to be devoured. However much like
the shoe maker's children we lack
any venue to dine upon a properly
cook piece of beef. More important,
it is absolutely impossible to order
and ingest a rare hamburger.
I am a carnivore. Therefore this beefy
boy likes nothing more than the red
stuff. In my opinion, there's only one
way to enjoy a cooked piece of cow -
RARE. Hence when I order a steak
my preference is seared with a cool
in fact preferably cold "blue" interior.
When it comes to a burger, I want it
to talk to me. In other words - said
slew should be as close to RAW as
possible. Yet unfortunately I live in
a place where absolutely nobody is
willing to give me what I want.
Back in Manhattan we never had a
problem. Weekly we journeyed to
Cafe Luxembourg on the upper west
side. There amidst the trappings of
a frenchified bistro we dined upon
a hand minced mound of raw beef
topped with a raw egg, Tabasco, and
other accoutrements. At every steak
house in the city that never sleeps,
if I ordered a steak "black and blue"
that's exactly what I got. Meanwhile
at every corner bar a luscious rare
burger was ready and waiting.
How dry I am
So why can't I have what I want in the
heart of beef country? Sadly even our
best restaurant is incapable of serving
a steak cooked rare enough for me.
So often I just cook it myself. Our
local butcher hand slices up a pretty
damned good rib eye. However unlike
the old days when I could easily buy
dry aged steaks at our corner grocer,
there are none to be had in town. Why
must I live in my dream land only to
be deprived from enjoying properly
prepared protein? It seems so unfair!
One thing is certain - not a single
chef in town will serve us a rare
burger. Hence both Frank and I
continue to push the issue. Post
request, the machinations are if
nothing else entertaining. At our
local Inn, the chef either yells at
the wait staff or angrily storms
from the kitchen to our table. On
the rare occasion when Frank has
ordered it rare at Doc's, the cook
demanded that he sign the check
to absolve her of all responsibility.
According to local culinary experts -
it is "against the law" to prepare and
serve a rare hamburger in Montana.
Incredulous, I did my homework to
uncover the raw reality. I won't bore
you with the details but the reason
our local restaurants cannot serve it
rare is simple. They purchase cheap,
preformed, frozen patties processed
in facilities that cannot guarantee the
safety of their meat. And so I must
suffer the consequences and either
do without or flip my own burger.
Bump and grind
I recently posed this question to the
chef. If I ordered a rib eye steak and
he ground it himself in his kitchen
then could I have my rare burger?
Baffled at my audacity of suggesting
he do some extra work, he not so
politely refused. Which means that
even if I'm willing to pay New York
City prices for a rare burger, it ain't
gonna happen in Lewistown. That
doesn't mean I'm going to give up.
There must be someone, somewhere
willing to give me what I want!
In Manhattan every menu has a small
footnote outlining the risks associated
with ingesting raw food. Said subtext
puts the onus on the consumer who is
willing to take the risk given theres a
big difference between eating a raw
versus cooked oyster. Yet why must
we be protected from a chef who opts
to not serve us the best? Quality tastes
better and processed food has no place
in a quality establishment. So if I'm
more ethan willing to pay my way -
why can't I have it my way?! RARE!