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This Steakhouse Bergen County Restaurant Brings You: The Fascinating Story Behind Meat

From delicious cuts of brined Canadian bacon to juicy medium rare fillet mignon, Americans relish meat. It’s in our blood, our DNA, the very fibers of our being. But why do we enjoy a hearty, well-seasoned steak? Is there something behind a healthy cut of porterhouse steak other than its taste? In fact, there’s more to why we love steak and meat in general than just our taste buds. In this article, we’ll reveal to you just why a piece of hanger steak makes you smile by exploring the ins and outs on why Americans love steak so much to a certain steakhouse Bergen County restaurant.

Part #1: Why the US Consumes A Hearty Amount of Meat

It’s not an unsurprising fact: Americans eat more meat in a year than some countries eat in four. But there’s more to it than just culture and geography. According to NPR, when a country’s income increases, meat consumption in that country goes up.[1] And, when a depression or recession hits, you can expect less meat on the dinner table. So, eating meat isn’t stereotypically American. However, it does explain part of the reason for our meat-loving ways. As Dan Charles puts it,” Americans eat meat because they can afford it.”[2] But this still doesn’t solve the mystery because Americans eat more meat than those in other wealthy nations.

Part #2 

This is because meat is significantly cheaper in the United States than in Europe.[3] Americans are always on the lookout for ways to make meat more affordable. We saw this when technological innovations such as the railroad were invented. Now, steak, pork, you name it could be shipped to any part of the country.

Why America should be called the land of meat instead of milk and honey

Also in Europe, meat was funneled down in a way that made it easier for the wealthy to have it. It was more of a rarity for the regular European. So, when immigrants came to the “land of milk and honey” they were probably surprised to discover how easy it was to enjoy meat. And not just once a year for a special occasion but every day.

In the 1840s, you had Irish immigrants writing letters back to their relatives in Ireland excitedly telling them that they got to eat meat every day— much to the disbelief of their relatives.[4] Because of the affordability and how easy it was to get meat, it’s safe to say that meat became the staple in the American diet. And an American way of celebrating special occasions such as Thanksgiving, as meat is always one of the main courses on the table.[5]

 Why pork is pork, beef’s beef, and mutton’s mutton

They’re probably used to be words in English for pork, beef, mutton, steak. But, we’ve long forgotten them. Instead, we have the French equivalents. Yes, a lot of the words we use to describe the cuts of meat are French. And there’s a reason for that. In the 11th century, the French invaded England—what came to be known as the Norman conquest. After the invasion, for several centuries the upper class spoke French while the English commoner spoke English.

And, as you can guess, the upper class ate the cuts of meat while the English commoners slaughtered and served it. So, the French-speaking upper-class only interacted with the cooked animal. The English-speaking lower-class, on the other hand, normally only interacted with the animal when it was alive. That being said, cooked meat became known as the French words for the animals: pork (pig), beef (cow), and mutton (sheep). At the same time, the words for the animals when they were on the farm remained the same: pig as pig, cow as cow, and sheep as sheep.

(Interesting fact: it’s not just the meat that has French names. If you notice, a lot of the names of the “finer things in life” are French, as several centuries ago only the French speaking upper-class could have enjoyed them.) Since the English had colonized America, these English and French words have carried over.

 Where your classic American steakhouse came from

The classic New York steakhouse came around in the mid-1800s. Imagine a dining hall where men “forgot their manners.” Without knives, forks, or napkins, they dined on several (by several, we mean SEVERAL) servings of beefsteak. They would then wash the meat down with several pints of beer.[6]

Then, when women gained the right to vote in 1920, they were invited into these “foreign” steakhouse dining halls. The reason being, politicians thought this would be a nice, independence segue way.[7] After that, little by little, the steakhouse menu became the menu we’re familiar with today.

Most likely because large cuts of meat and pints of beer were considered unfeminine. So, perhaps to appease the ladies, shrimp cocktails and celery and radish dishes were introduced. Then you had your cutlery and eventually potatoes, which, because of their hardiness, less meat was consumed.[8]

Eventually, the beefsteak trend fell out of fashion, and the steakhouse became what it is known to be today.[9] (This steakhouse Bergen County restaurant included!) Since people buy more meat when their incomes are higher and that they prefer the cheapest type of meat, perhaps Americans stopped eating beefsteak because the prices rose? In any case, our consumption of beef reached its peak in the 1970s.  where, in 1976, the common American consumed 94 pounds of beef each year.[10] Now, this has gone down by a third. (in case you want to know, chicken has replaced it as the preferred meat choice since it’s cheaper.)

American steaks have come far

Back in the age of the caveman meat was cooked with only one purpose in mind: for it to be eaten.[11] Now, steaks are marinated, seasoned, and cooked in a variety of heats. But it wasn’t always that way. In fact, some of our original meat preparation standards and theories came from the Greeks and Romans humoral theory of medicine.[12] Supposedly, beef was to be well-boiled and pork should be eaten without the skin and in a rather lukewarm state.[13]

However, the way we cooked meat–steak included—transformed due to the revolutionary invention of the thermometer in the early 1900s.[14] Suddenly, we didn’t have to rely on our cooking instinct and cross your fingers, hoping that our steaks for medium rare or well done. Eventually, due to the European cooking influence brought on by household names such as Julia Child, our meat became less and less cooked. Which is why well done today isn’t the same as well-done several decades ago.

The story behind the cut

Did you know that Boston butt isn’t actually the butt of a pig? Or that fillet mignon really just means in French “dainty fillet”?[15] Read on to learn the stories behind the cuts you eat, as well as why you’ll smile when you bite into a juicy cut from this steakhouse Bergen County restaurant.

Canadian bacon may not be Canada’s favorite

Canadian bacon typically is a brined bacon. According to Mental Floss, it got its name because Americans thought that Canadians really did like this type of bacon.[16]

Boston butt is not what you think

During the colonial days in New England, this pig shoulder cut was packed and stored in barrels. It was the barrels themselves that were known as butts. And, since this cut of the pig came from New England, we now refer to this cut as Boston butt.[17]

 Flat iron steak is a much more recent invention

Actually, according to Mental Floss, the flat iron steak is a 21st-century meat invention. University of Nebraska and University of Florida professors went through several cattle, looking for a new type of cattle to put out on the market.

But instead, they found a new cut that had been overlooked. The professors gave it that name because the cut resembles a flat iron. So, your meat is not what you think; it’s even better.

 This elegant steakhouse Bergen County restaurant

From immigrants eyeing it in disbelief to thermometers revolutionizing it, meat in America holds a fascinating place in our history. Now, you can enjoy a nice, juicy steak at this steakhouse Bergen County restaurant knowing that it’s a deeply ingrained influence in American culture and history.

Bon appétit!

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[1] NPR the salt: The Making of Meat-Eating America

[2] The Making of Meat-Eating America

[3] NPR the salt: The Making of Meat-Eating America

[4] The Making of Meat-Eating America

[5] NPR the salt: The Making of Meat-Eating America

[6] The New York Times: For Red Meat and a Sense of History

[7] For Red Meat and a Sense of History

[8] The New York Times: For Red Meat and a Sense of History

[9] For Red Meat and a Sense of History

[10] NPR the salt: The Making of Meat-Eating America

[11] Slate: Shoe-Leather Reporting: A history of well-done meat in America

[12] A history of well-done meat in America

[13] Slate: Shoe-Leather Reporting: A history of well-done meat in America

[14] A history of well-done meat in America

[15] Mental Floss: How 9 Cuts of Meat Got Their Names

[16] How 9 Cuts of Meat Got Their Names

[17] Mental Floss: How 9 Cuts of Meat Got Their Names

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