Beef, It’s What’s for Dinner

Let’s talk about meat. Yes, and that means Beef.

Every true connoisseur of beef must necessarily
put in some time as a political vegetarian, if for no reason other than
to appreciate beef. It’s not unlike true conservatives flirting with
liberal politics before re-gaining their senses. My grandfather, who
ate nothing but beef, or so it seemed, was always bragging about the
quality of the beef that he put on the table, a short loin reposing in
the freezer at all times. When he’d take me to the Hoof & Horn, a restaurant near the St. Joseph Stockyards
where he presided, I’d embarrass him by ordering up fish. I didn’t pay
enough attention during Animal Science 170, meat science and
production, because it was mostly about whole carcasses and salmonella.
But I did inject a roast I received once during law school with red
wine and ate off it for a week, slice by slice straight from the
refrigerator. And then I forgot about beef for a decade or so.

About ten years ago I rediscovered the barbeque
grill, putting those lessons I learned during the college class on
camping which earned me gym credits to good use. Well, the grill was a
gas grill, but that’s beside the point. Men get all the glory from
playing with fire, and I was going to seize it for myself. Grilling is
powerful.

And so I went on to buy a couple of steaks yesterday. Red meat is
usually less expensive around these parts during Lent, which makes it
all the more appealing. At Comercial Mega,
T-bone was selling for $79 M.N. a kilo, which works out to a little
less than $3.50 a pound. I have no idea what the price is in the U.S.

Forget all you learned before about grilling steaks. It’s all nonsense. There’s one proper way to grill, and it’s mine. Well, Asado Argentina gets it right, too.

Let the meat sit in a refrigerator for a few days,
unwrapped. Dry the meat off, and dust it with kosher salt. Regular
table salt will not work, because it’s round. Kosher salt is flat and
will stick to the meat. And then allow it to warm up to room
temperature. Pre-heat the grill. Do not trim the fat off, because
flare-ups are part of the fun and add flavor. You’re only allowed to
turn meat once, so make sure that you exercise caution before turning
it. Stand back and watch the juices elevate to the top, and think kind
thoughts about beef animals.

An honest steak should be consumed in the absence
of all starches or vegetables which would rob it of its glory. A good
steak can stand alone, accompanied only by chimichurri  or pico de gallo.

Eating a steak just isn’t the same without a dog
staring at you lovingly. Even at a restaurant, I’m thinking about what
scraps to take home to Goodman the Beloved Doberman. Restaurants like Peter Luger Steak House
should supply dogs to gaze adoringly at the plates of patrons who don’t
have dogs. Eating freshly grilled red meat in front of a dog brings out
the best of the experience between the hunter-griller and the pack
partner.

I’m sick and tired of the global warming weenies blaming it all on beef. Beef is what made the Americas (note the plural, please) great, and it’s good for you.

jen in Morelia

   

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Losing Your Head Over Crime

Every so often, the United States Embassy in Mexico sends out Warden Notices, warning American citizens of danger. A few days ago one was issued, repeating a prior warning
from months past, alerting U.S.citizens to the “rising level of brutal violence in Mexico.” In the message, which curiously expires on
April 27, 2007, the Embassy warned:

U.S. citizens residing and traveling in Mexico should exercise extreme
caution when in unfamiliar areas and be aware of their surroundings at all times. Public sources suggest that narcotics-related violence has claimed 1,500 lives in Mexico
this year. In recent months there have been execution-style murders of Mexican and U.S. citizens
in Tamaulipas (particularly Nuevo Laredo), Michoacán, Baja California, Guerrero and other states.
 

Last year the U.S.media was all atwitter over some loose heads dropped at the stroke of midnight
on the dance floor of a bar frequented by taxi-dancers and those who dance with
them in Uruapan.
The New York Times jumped on the story, and National Public Radio rushed a
camera crew to the bar, only to find themselves less than welcomed.

A customs agent at the Houston airport grilled me last month
about why I lived in Michoacán, punctuating his speech just a little too often
with “you people.” As I tried to explain
to him that Morelia’s a delightful colonial city, a UNESCO World Heritage site even,
he insisted that it was dangerous and crime-ridden, telling me that he knew all
about “you people.” He claimed that Michoacános were a wild and lawless bunch,
words which made me choke. Of course, I was in no position to complain as he
pawed through my luggage in search of contraband that just wasn’t there, but I
offered up that there were some places in Houston you just didn’t enter. I left the customs area feeling violated.

His attitude mirrored that of many who do not live here. Beheadings
made for good stories, but no one paid attention to the backstory, a feud
between rival gangs. No one at the bar was injured. This was no Main Street venue. It was an event as distant from mainstream Mexico as any everyday drug killing or drive-by shooting in the U.S.

On a Mexico-related mailing list, a few weeks ago one woman
wrote:

So many malls caused me to ask my
Mexican contacts where all the money came from and the answer is drugs. This is
Michoacán, after all.

There’s a huge tendency among the envious and the ignorant
to connote nice shopping malls and housing with drug money. Hard work,
perseverance and business acumen drive those investments, just like anywhere
else.

You’ve read those product safety warnings telling you not to
eat the contents of a laser printer cartridge and to keep your bare mitts off the
moving parts of a chainsaw. Just as manufacturers have to identify every known
risk, the embassy warning necessarily has to go to great lengths warning of
every potential danger to its citizens. But how many can distinguish between
over-warning and reality? Whatever happened to common sense?

jennifer in Morelia

 

We’re Not America’s Backyard

A few weeks ago an American in San Miguel de Allende asked
me about Morelia, and I excitedly started to describe the exciting changes in
my town — Bosque Monarca, Tres Marias, the Jack Nicklaus golf course and the Carter Morrish golf course.
And, of course, Paseo Morelia, which will be one of the largest shopping
centers in Latin America. I’m downright proud
of the development in my city, and I know it bodes well for Mexico.

“But this is Meeeexico,” the listener whined. “What’s
happening to this country?” It was apparent that she wanted Mexico to
remain an idealized version of smiling folk astride burros. Her attitude reflected the statement that got
the late Adolfo Aguilar Zinser, who served as National Security Advisor and UN
Security Council Ambassador under the Fox Administration, fired after saying
that the elites and other classes of the U.S. see Mexico
as a “country whose position is that of a back yard.” Aguilar Zinser said that
the U.S.
was only interested in a relationship of convenience and subordination” and a
“weekend fling,” and he stood firm in his position in his resignation letter.

“What’s the point of living in Mexico if you’re near shopping
malls and subdivisions?” she persisted.

And then I realized that this poor misguided soul couldn’t
distinguish between visiting Mexico and living here. She just plain couldn’t understand that expatriates live
Mexican lives, harboring a certain appreciation for development. What’s good
for business is good for Mexico.

Americans who rant and rave about the last Mexican election
without being able to even name the contenders – much less the name of the man
who won – really do see Mexico as nothing more than their backyard and weekend
fling. Mexico’s moving ahead, but sadly its neighbor to the north isn’t.

jennifer j. rose, Morelia

 

Spot the Gringo

The cable office at Walmart  wouldn’t open for another ten
minutes, so I wandered around the store with an espresso from Café Europa in
hand. Standing in line at the checkout, I whiled away my time looking up at the
sky-lit roof of the building, suddenly noticing an odd chemical odor and
attributing it to the stock of polyester clothing nearby. A distant alarm went
off, seeming to emanate from the parking lot. And a few people wandered toward
the exit. Finally, store employees started motioning for everyone to leave as
the alarm grew louder.

A fire, someone in the parking lot said. It didn’t smell
like fire to me. 

I gave up and went to my car, only to be met by a foreigner
asking if I was Jennifer Rose. She said she knew me by my car, surely the
oldest purple Cadillac in all of Michoacan.

“A fire drill,” she insisted, adding that she saw fireman with smiles on their
faces. I figured that happy fireman were just doing the work they enjoyed.

And then on to Costco for the special of the week, coupons
in hand. In the frozen food aisle is a strange foreigner, discussing corn dogs
on his cell phone as he piled boxes of frozen French fries into his cart. Even
if the urgency of his English words about corn dogs didn’t mark him as a
gringo, his appearance did: a baggy muscle shirt, baggier shorts, and thongs.
Fat and over fifty, he kept scratching at his nether regions. Maybe the need
for immediate access to his privates dictated his wardrobe. Around these parts,
men dressed as he was, even at Costco, are about as appropriate as wingtips at
the beach. 

In the next aisle, another friend greets me and tells me
that he wants to introduce me to some new people. “Not that weird guy?” I ask,
pointing out the stranger. No, not him, I’m told, and we snicker.

We play a game around these parts, and it’s called Spot the
Gringo. If it’s not by some subtle body language, you can always tell them by
what they wear.

jennifer in Michoacán