Thursday, January 25, 2007

Why is this so hard?

What is it exactly about downtown dwellers? Are we so scarce for food in this concrete jungle that we have to run people over to get at it? Doesn't it make sense that if the store has an onsite butcher shop, chances are they can cut more steaks?

I went to the Market Co-op last night to pick up dinner for tonight. (Yes, everyone who attended our wedding and will not stop pestering me, YES we will have your studio portraits for you tonight!) So dinner, with Matt, who will eat anything I make and tell me all those ego boosting things I love, and that is why he gets steak tonight.

Normally I love grocery shopping. I get excited and creative and happy all at once. But not when I have to pick out red meat. Beef seems to be the bain of my cooking existence. I think I really need to practice more in order to be less intimidated by its rawness. So I plucked up my courage, called Josh to get the cut name right, and began sifting through the packages on the shelf. And of course, because I couldn't be more confused and stressed than I already was, a man was standing next to me, glaring at my obvious failure to choose a package in under 30 seconds. I know he wanted what I wanted, I know this because he made me so nervous that I finally walked away to search for marinades. I watched him from the aisle - mainly to glare right back at him - and sure enough he picked the first package from the top sirloin stack as if he had been picking meat all his life and I was just too dumb to realize that the top pack was perfect in all its marbled meatiness. So fine, I grabbed my trusty Cattleboys bottle and marched right back to the stack, determined not be stared down again. Sadly, there was another "comfortable with choosing beef" shopper and he too, seemed to be impatient. So I grabbed the pack that looked the least disgusting (and held enough for 3 people) and I bailed out of there as fast as possible to be stared down in the produce aisle. Sometimes I hate urban life!

The beef thing, it's so weird that I would find it difficult. I don't think it should be difficult, it is after all, fairly straightforward to cook. So long as it is not all grey and rubbery, you cooked it right, right? Or not. I think it is because the flavor of beef is so robust that I am concerned my side dishes will not measure up. How can sad bits of steamed broccoli and yellow zucchini drizzled in olive oil possibly sit side by side with yummy tender steak that has been marinating for ages in the fridge under a blanket of Cattleboys? And what exactly must I do to potatoes to make them stand out, all white and bland? See if I could serve the steak triumphantly alone in the center of the plate, I think beef would be my favorite thing. But you can't do that, not when you are trying to follow the insufferable rules of healthy eating. Damn you healthiness! So I now have to come up with two side dishes that will look yummy, and not be cold by the time the steak is ready.

This is why I love to bake, because a brownie in the middle of a plate right now, would not be amiss.

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