Okay, the heat is on. The other day at a friend's house we ate burgers cooked on a gas grill. The ambient temperature outside was -8 C. We had to shovel the steps leading to the back yard in order to get to the grill. I ground some of the burgers myself, the day before. Grinding your own burgers may seem to some to be a bit extreme, but to me, it's just an extension of the love affair I have with beef. They turned out to be quite good, as usual. But that's the part that bothers me; that's the beef I have with beef.
Because no two beefy experiences I have ever had have been the same. There is no guarantee that the filet mignon I buy from Fred's Market today will taste the same as the one I bought a week ago. This is good, in that I will always be surprised by my next beef experience, but it's not good in that there seems to be little or no consistency with beef shopping, at least in your dreary, garden-variety grocery store. Add a couple of Dateline NBC hidden-camera exposés about grocers relabeling old product and selling it and you're left with an E-colicky taste in your mouth.
I don't pretend I know anything about what's under the hood of my car. I can take it to my mechanic and he can spout anything he wants about turbos and spark plugs and transmissions and I'm completely at his mercy. I don't have a clue what he's talking about, but when he says the solenoid in the draft mechanism needs to be replaced to the tune of $145, I just pay up. I have to; there is no other choice. Which brings me to my point: when I go to the grocery store and the package says "Grain-fed Angus Beef filet mignon" at $45/lb, who am I to quibble? It's gotta be good, right? But the truth is, sometimes it is, sometimes it isn't. I've had nights when I've slapped the bastard on the grill for exactly the requisite amount of time and it comes out perfectly, melt-in-your-mouth delicious. But I've had other times, far, too many other times, when it's a chewy, rare mess.
Like plonk-fatigue, the illness provoked from imbibing too many inferior wines from the corner dépanneur, one gets filet fatigue. There has to be something bigger, something that transcends the daily grind, if you will. Something dependably delectable. Something so awesome, so life-affirming, so transcendental, so unattainable, that just the thinking of it leads to a disturbing obsession. Bon dieu, informez-moi. What could that be?
How to make perfect carpaccio.
I'll try to make that a priority next week.