A Farewell to Steaks

My dad’s steak entree at The Ranch, Anaheim.

Last night I lay in bed thinking about what my beef-eating schedule should be… as if it was a really pressing subject. (To refresh: I’m not supposed to eat red meat, because of my cholesterol.) If I let myself eat it around my birthday in August, maybe I should also let myself eat it around Christmastime. Celebratory times. Then I thought — maybe I should make it every six months. So, my birthday and Valentine’s Day, more or less. Times when I might want to eat a nice steak. But not in a slippery slope way.

Then I thought — do I even like steak anymore? Should I just eat an In ‘N Out once in a while, beef-wise? If that? Should steak just… never happen again?

My parents offered me bites of their steak at my sister’s birthday dinner (meal pictured), but I wasn’t tempted — I was hardly interested. It used to be that I’d scour a menu looking for the dishes with beef in them — I’d be in a beef mood. I guess it’s easier to narrow down my order now (unless there’s nothing I can eat), but it makes me feel sort of like a jerk. Ms. Picky-Pants. There is such a long list of things I can’t or won’t eat…

On one of my first dates with Sam, we went to Tender Greens and he recommended the steak. I ordered it on my salad, and it was really good — juicy and tender, the kind of steak you fantasize about eating again. (Incidentally — at the time I thought I might be allergic to bread. I’m sure Sam was like — she’s probably high maintenance!) (Was he wrong?) Fast forward to sometime right after I started cutting out red meat. I was at Tender Greens with Sam, and I asked for a bite of his steak sandwich — for old times’ sake. And the bite I got was just kind of gritty and nasty. (Which is  not surprising, because Tender Greens is wildly inconsistent.)

Every time I think of steak lately, I think of that gritty bite. Not of the wonderful steaks I’ve tried throughout my life. Just sort of a gritty piece of fat. The disappointment of “cheating” and not even enjoying my cheat bite. If I’m going to sacrifice a bit of my health (or at least feel like I am), I want it to be sinfully good. And that’s… that’s a tall order. (From Tender Greens, at least.)

I guess the question is — what’s “worth it”? You know? (I think the chicken and steak combo at Benihana might be worth it… but it’s just as easy to order the chicken-and-anything-else.) (Also: I go to Benihana sparingly.) (I also tend to think that ice cream is “worth it,” but lately my stomach is like — hey buddy, you’re supposed to be lactose intolerant.) (The green tea ice cream at Benihana is worth it, even if you are REALLY full.)

I also think that the steak Sam made last Valentine’s Day (at my request) was “worth it,” but maybe I should just be saying — nope, I’d prefer chicken. Maybe steak is just something I should try to remember fondly. Like… it’s Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca. And I’m getting on a plane.

Here’s looking at you, kid. (Valentine’s steak.)

And if I decide only to eat beef once in a blue moon, will I even be able to digest it? Or will this “treat” just become a stomach-aching ordeal? (I’ve heard about long-term vegetarians  getting sick when they finally eat meat again.)

I’m not sure if I’m articulating it correctly, but all these things I can’t eat make me feel a bit alienated… from myself, even. I’m just like — body, why are you so difficult? And who am I, this person who is so “meh” about steak? What do I REALLY like? Do I even know? Am I eating what I ought to be eating? Etc, etc, etc.

And who am I to write a blog about food? (I mean, I guess anybody can… example: me.)

Maybe I’m having a steak identity crisis. (I already had a red velvet identity crisis, even though I never really wrote about it.) (Basically: I thought I really liked red velvet, and realized it tasted like nothing to me, generally.)

And I guess the really weird thing is — probably a LOT of people who are happily eating beef every week have worse cholesterol problems than I do. My attempt to be so good and aware is… something I should be proud of, I guess.

Now I’m hungry. Maybe I just need some protein…

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