Thursday, November 7, 2013

In which we discover that Sly and Doris are indeed not steak worthy

Primo and I had a big argument before he left to visit Sly and Doris because he wanted to take one of our Good Steaks with him and I maintained that Sly and Doris are not steak worthy.

This is a variation of an argument we have had before - not everyone is bratwurst worthy.

My uncle and cousins own a deer-processing and sausage-making business up north. It is illegal to sell a product with venison in it, so they give us venison bratwurst and breakfast sausages and summer sausage when we visit. I always take something to give in return, but what do you take? They are not big drinkers, so don't care about wine. They don't care about the fancy olive oil. You can get good cheese around here, so fancy cheese is not an option. I have taken some sausages from other countries, but it's hard to bring those into the US.

So even though they throw open the doors to the freezer and say, "Take as much as you want," the fact that it's an uneven exchange holds us back. I don't want to be greedy. I mean, I do want to be greedy, but I don't want to look greedy. I want all the benefits of greed - lots of venison sausages - with none of the disadvantages - people will think I'm a pig. 

I faced the same dilemma when my dad's cousin gave my mom and me a tour of the bakeries he and his wife own. He unlocked the door to the main bakery after it had closed, opened his arms, and said, "Take what you want!"

It was like a dream come true, right?

Only if you ever want to be invited back...

Anyhow, Primo and I have argued about which of our guests will get bratwursts and which will not. Almost all of our friends make the cut, but when a friend of his from high school came to visit, along with his wife and three kids, I argued successfully that the children should not get the Good Brats. 

"Kids think that Kraft Mac and Cheese is fine cuisine," I said. "I am not wasting good meat on them."

Primo agreed, but I couldn't convince him not to share the brats with his friend, either. 

Then there are the Good Steaks.

Several years ago, when we were in that part of the country, Primo and I stopped in the butcher shop in my mom and dad's hometown, which is near where my uncle has his sausage business. This shop is two blocks from where my grandparents used to live. The shop is in an old garage. This garage is the building my grandfather and great-uncle built for their auto-repair business during WWII. 

We looked at the freezer case and saw all kinds of cool things, like ground llama and ground bison and smokehouse bacon and thick porterhouse steaks and none of it expensive. 

But it's not the price that makes this stuff special - it's that it's all grass-fed, free-range meat, even though it's not promoted that way. This is a small town without a stoplight in the middle of farm country. Everyone knows everyone else and everyone knows how it's done, so it's not necessary to promote it.

We bought one of the 2" steaks as a test.

Oh my.

It was so good. And Primo is an amazing griller of meat. He does it just right. Anybody who has ever eaten at our house has raved about his steaks. 

Those steaks have become our go-to meal for company, but we only get a dozen or so a year. They are not as expensive as at a fancy store, but they are not cheap and a three-pound steak at ten dollars a pound adds up. Not to mention we pick them up in person when we are going north for vacation and we have limited cooler space.

Not a single person has not had some of Primo's steak and not complimented the steak and Primo's preparation thereof. Not one.

When Primo told me he wanted to take a steak with him to Sly and Doris' house, I protested.

"They are not worthy," I said. "If your dad would meet the butcher (a fourth-generation butcher whose grandfather was friends with my grandfathers), he would extrude disdain immediately. JP didn't go to college. You know what your dad thinks about people who didn't go to college. They are sub human."

Primo argued back. "They'll really like it."

I sniffed. "No they won't. Their taste buds are shot from drinking."

He insisted and won by saying, "What if I want to have a decent steak while I'm stuck there?"

Then I felt sorry for him because he was going for an entire week and would be miserable the entire time.

But I was still resentful. They did not deserve that steak. 

Primo carefully packed the steak and an ice pack in his suitcase along with a bottle of wine. "I'll have to check this bag," he said.

He never checks a bag.

He carried the steak with him for 1,000 miles. He drove it the 60 miles to Sly and Doris' house in his rental car because they won't pick him up.

He thawed it and he grilled it.

And then he sent me this message:

You were right. They weren't steak-worthy.
I cooked the steak tonight, and it was as excellent as I expected. My mom didn't like it very much (probably because her portion was overcooked), and my dad thought it was only "good" and not wonderful.

Which made me so sad because they didn't even try to appreciate the effort Primo had made on their behalf. But it did not surprise me.Once a jerk, always a jerk.