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Steak: One Man's Search for the World's Tastiest Piece of Beef Hardcover – April 29, 2010

44 customer reviews

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Hardcover, April 29, 2010
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Slate columnist Schatzker's journey through more than 100 pounds of steak begins with a single, fondly remembered bite from his past and takes him, years later, to eight countries on four continents in pursuit of flavorful beef. Chapter by Dionysian chapter he probes the myths and minutiae of tasty beef. Does marbling (the small white dots and curls of fat spread throughout a steak's red flesh) matter more than breed? Is a stressed animal less tasty? Can words accurately describe the flavor of beef? In Texas, Schatzker compares corn-fed to grass-fed rib-eyes; Scotland is mostly about the Angus bulls, while Japan provides the lure of its famed kobe and Wagyu beef. Lessons from each new location build upon those from the last, underscoring his major concern: do modern practices of commercial breeding and production sacrifice quality for quantity? Schatzker writes with a discerning eye, an inquisitive mind, and a comedic sense of timing that keeps both shop talk (reading cow pies), and the esoteric (the mysteries of umami) from numbing readers' minds. On the way to a unifying theory of steak, Schatzker even raises his own cows for slaughter, leading him to the Zen-like revelation that the secret to great steak is great steak. No matter. Steak is easily one of the most entertaining and informative noncookbooks about beef. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

The dedicated carnivore's gold standard has always been the steak. Seared to a deep brown and bulging with red meat juices, it's the quintessential cut of beef. Canadian Schatzker allows his obsession with the ideal steak to propel him across the face of the earth in search of that one sizzling slab of perfection. Starting in Texas' ranch country, he looks at cattle production in Scotland, France, Italy, Japan, and Argentina, each of which trumpets the superiority of its particular beef. In order to bring some objectivity to his evaluation, Schatzker devises a detailed, comprehensive list of steak qualities that rivals wine-tasting standards. He senses timber, liver, cucumber, blood, cream, and chestnut among many other flavors, and he rates texture and tenderness as well. Schatzker ultimately goes so far as to raise his own animals. Meat lovers will learn a lot from this book, which upends a few current beliefs and prejudices. --Mark Knoblauch

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Viking (April 29, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670021814
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670021819
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #992,410 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Tomas Mandarina on June 7, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I wasn't sure what to expect when I started reading Steak. What I found was an excellent blend of travelogue, food writing, personal journal, and scientific discourse. The book is enjoyable from beginning to end. There is an honesty to the writing, suggesting a deep fascination and passion for the subject matter - steak. And that leads the author to discuss more than just opinions, more than just subjective descriptions of good food that may or may not be accessible to the average person. Schatzker travels all over the world to attempt to uncover why people love steak, what makes steak taste good, and what is wrong with mass produced commoditized beef. He writes about the food and flavor science in an ease that is reminiscent of Malcolm Gladwell or Atul Gawande. The complexity of the subject matter is explained in a story like fashion and that makes it highly digestible (pardon the pun) and fascinating. For a book that is educational, fun and even at times touching, I highly recommend this book.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on May 24, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I enjoy "single subject" books like Rice, Sugar, Salt, The Founding Fish, Caviar and so forth. And I have been a perfect-steak-searcher for years. Some background: when I was a kid, my father, whose father was a butcher,would go in with a friend and buy a "side" of beef. He'd have it delivered to the local butcher where it would hang to become "dry aged." On Saturdays we'd go to the butcher shop and watch the butcher scrape off the mold and trim off the dried-out edges and deftly cut off two strip steaks 2 1/4 inches thick. The meat was crimson and "marbled" with intricate traceries of fat. Dad would cook the steak in an iron skillet (as the French do). Always rare. When done he'd put it on a warm plate and then pour red wine in the pan, add a pat of butter, swirl it around over high heat to make a sauce which he'd poured over the steak on the serving plate. That ritual turned me into a steak aficianado.

Schatzker's book is a steak lover's feast. He explores the merits of grass or grain fed beef and much more while taking you on a carnivorous journey around the world, a journey that will introduce you to the most subtle and delightful differences between extraordinaty steak and ordinary meat.
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Format: Hardcover
Toronto-based Slate journalist Mark Schatzker has written a fabulous book about a healthy low-carb delicacy called Steak: One Man's Search for the World's Tastiest Piece of Beef. Whether you are a connoisseur of steaks or a beef-eating novice, you're gonna learn so much from what is shared in this book.

Check out what Mark has to share about his personal love for beef and his disappointment with the "mediocre" steaks he was consuming, how his career as a travel and food journalist helped him find the perfect steak, what's wrong with most steaks that people are consuming, the problem of grain-fed beef, why inexpensive steaks aren't necessarily a good thing, how we can get people to want the better quality of beef, the influx of grass-fed beef in conventional grocery stores, why all grass-fed beef is not necessarily good, the parts of the cow that are not as popular but are delicious like the tongue (where it is hugely popular in Japan), the benefits of the various cuts of beef, why cows are supposed to be eating grass to create the protein and fat in beef, why you should never marinate a strip or flank steak, which is his favorite steak and why, his online resource for finding the good steaks vs. the not-so-good steaks, why restaurants aren't necessarily serving the best steaks, how people would find the ranches and farms selling these quality cuts of beef, the most exotic places he visited in his research for his book to find the best steaks, whether grain can play any role in the process of raising cattle, what his thoughts are on promoting grass-fed beef and the alleged lack of pasture land for the cows, why people are more apt to "settle" for inferior cuts of beef, and his future plans for future projects.

If you're not hungry for a sizzling (grass-fed) steak after listening to Mark Schatzker, then you're not livin' la vida low-carb! Get STEAK and eat this one up!
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Paul Butler on May 21, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Most complete book ever written on the hows and whys of producing the best flavored beef. Also a very enjoyable read for anyone interested in the culture of eating.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on December 1, 2010
Format: Hardcover
A customer of ours at a farmer's market loaned us this book. I started reading it, and my husband wasn't far behind. It has been a very intertaining trip to read this story, which surprisingly has quite a strong plot. As a writer I was extremely impressed with all of the different ways he found to describe steak. And, the ending...well, I don't want to blow it for you. But, I was so HAPPY with the ending.

We strive to raise the best grass fed steak around, and the one thing/place/person that I was surprised that he left out was Joel Salatin at Polyfaced Farms. Joel was the only missing element that would have completely covered the subject.

This is an excellent read, but do be got technical. But, not in an overpowering, heady way. He would sneak it in on you, and slam you in the face with it. People really need to know this information though. They need to know what goes into making the meat that they eat. They need to know the influence that industry is having over research and regulation in the food world. They need to understand how this then ties into the government regulations, and how it affects the product that ends up on the plate. The quality of food has gone down quickly in the past 20 years. Why arn't more people throwing a fit about it? Thank Goodness for books and people like this that are working to reverse the trend, and overcome it. Great work! Great Book! Great Writing!
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