Experiencing Steak to the Fullest

What is it about steak that prompts such visceral, extreme reactions?

Consider this: If you join a friend for a casual dinner somewhere, and the two of you opt to get tacos, there is really no combination of toppings or ingredients your friend can choose that will cause you to think twice. It’s his plate of tacos, after all—so why should you care whether he gets chicken or shrimp, sour cream or guacamole, red onions or jalapenos?

We might say the same about deli sandwiches, and about pizza toppings. What’s on your plate doesn’t impact anyone else. Who really cares what you order?

When it comes to steak, though, things are different. Order yours well done and—if you’re in a crowd full of real steak snobs, or even amateur carnnoisseurs—you’re going to get some haughty sneers. You may even get a little verbal abuse. You shouldn’t be surprised if even the steakhouse waiter, tasked with courteously taking your order, gives you a lingering glare.

And God forbid you put ketchup on it.

Now, we’re not here to condemn the well-done crowd. (We probably would condemn ketchup users, unless it’s just an awful piece of meat at some lousy diner.) We just think it’s telling that steak inspires such uniquely extreme, visceral, instinctive reactions. In that regard, it’s not like other foods. It’s more like wine or cigars: Enjoy it in the wrong way and you’re sure to get a snobby backlash.

Perhaps it’s because we all just know, on some deep level, that steak is one of the finer things. It’s more than just a meal. It’s an indulgence, something to savor and to appreciate in all its complexity.

And if you take your steak seriously—if you know even a little bit about steak culture—then it’s hard not to wish the people you’re dining with would all enjoy it the way you do—to experience it as fully as possible.

That, really, is what steak snobbery is all about. We don’t look down on the amateurs and the well-done set just for the sake of our own haughtiness; we know firsthand just how satisfying steak can be—and we want everyone we know to enjoy it as such.


Matt MacQuarrie
Matt MacQuarrie


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