Monday, February 25, 2008

Beefsteak: Prep Week

On Thursday, I’ll be attending an event called a beefsteak. For a simple explanation of the history of the beefsteak, I’ll reference a passage from a New York Times article:

Back in the days before cholesterol testing, beefsteaks — boisterous mass feeds featuring unlimited servings of steak, lamb chops, bacon-wrapped lamb kidneys, crabmeat, shrimp and beer, all consumed without such niceties as silverware, napkins or women — held sway in New York for the better part of a century.

The ritual was documented by the writer Joseph Mitchell for the New Yorker magazine in his 1939 article “All You Can Hold for Five Bucks.” As Mr. Mitchell told it, the beefsteak came into being in the mid-1800s, became popular as a political fund-raiser and vote-buyer, and began a slow decline when women started taking part after being granted suffrage in 1920.

Damn women. Damn suffrage. OK just kidding. I support women’s right to eat…and vote, I suppose. You can also get historical accounts at this blog: The Big Apple.

Supposedly, beefsteaks have become extinct in NYC, but they are very popular in New Jersey. My roommates’ classmate got wind of this travesty and decided to resurrect the beefsteak in his Upper West Side apartment. He hired a chef who specializes in catering beefsteaks in NJ. For $29 (including tip), the chef will provide beef, salad, ice cream and two servers. There is a BYOB policy.

Though I was aching for the bacon-wrapped lamb kidneys, beefsteaks have evolved into a steak-only affair. Also, I think those sketchballs in Jersey bastardized the event with salad. I’m not complaining about ice cream. I like ice cream. (Hopefully, he’ll bring non-chocolate toppings so I can abide by my Lenten sacrifice.)

An interesting characteristic about beefsteaks is that they also serve as an eating competition. The strips of beef are served on slices of bread. Rather than eating the bread, you stack the bread beside your plate to keep track of how much beef you’ve eaten. This competition angle will definitely prevent me from drinking. At most, I think I’ll only have two beers, hopefully of the light variety. I need to show these rich, advantaged law school kids how much a poor migrant Mexican (Filipino) slave worker (advertising account executive) can eat.

In anticipation of this eating showcase, I’ve also decided to put my stomach on a training regimen. This past Friday, I started increasing my meal portions and caloric intake. The goal is to eat 1.5 pounds of beef. I’m not exactly sure what 1.5 pounds of beef looks like, but I’m sure it’s more than my body can handle. But I must persevere.

If I don’t die from a clogged artery after the beefsteak, I’ll write a follow-up to the event. Stay tuned.

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