4/22/11


This is not about tongue or cheek. Like the kind you might want to eat. What we'll be talking about here it's at the other end.

Tongue (beef tongue, that is) to our taste is just a little too, shall we say, uniform in texture. But, maybe a thin sliced tongue sandwich on rye at Katz's. But, hey, visits to Katz's are so rare that who would order tongue when everybody knows the pastrami is what you want.
Or, cheeks. Beef cheeks. It used to be awful. But since trendy chefs have discovered it, now it's "offal". Now everybody downtown in Manhattan is chomping the cheeks. It is an excellent cut and still very well priced. But, there are a lot of people downtown so it's just a matter of time before what happened to oxtails happens to beef cheeks.
Who was it that eats high on the food chain that discovered the wonders of oxtails. (One such we know, THAT Baron Ambrosia, even goes out of his way to get his smoked. What is HE smoking?)


When I was a boy working at a butcher shop on Saturdays at the Gratiot Central Market in Detroit, oxtails were, like 29¢ a pound. I don't think it was that long ago when something around $1.49 per pound was usual.
But now, oxtails are $5.00-6.00 per pound. That makes it pricier per ounce of protein than steak. Come. On. Factor out the easily 50-60% bone ratio and you start topping $12.00 a pound. Dig my math? The solution, watch for the sales.
Not the kind of sales that car dealers advertise. They advertise a HUGE SALE and when you get to the dealership you find that it's really business as usual. Just a come on. Hey, bub, everything's on sale, isn't it? Buyer beware. I am always amazed at how car dealer advertising has so much about buying from "people you can trust." Also, I am flabbergasted at the disconnect between the high minded promotional messages from the manufacturers, all quality and style, and the rough trade experience you can almost always expect to get when you go to buy — anywhere. The difference is only that some are even worse than the others. So expect a grind. Unless, of course, you are what the car sales guys call a "grape". That's a buyer who gives them all the money for the vehicle. As in, "all the juice." Get it? If you want a deal, it's really good old fashioned horse trading. But, with an essential difference. Horses, real horses, are unique critters. There is a legitimate reason to haggle. One isn't at all like any other. But, cars are cookie cutter. Yet, the reality is that what the identical car will sell for, from one customer to the next, can be quite a bit different. It troubles. There's more, but just to know that if you want a lower price you're coming out a raisin, not a grape.
By the way, my boss at the butcher shop job said this, "Some say it's tough to pay $28.00 a pound for a steak; but if you don't, it could be tougher." (That is a current price for a top steak. In earlier times the actual number the boss would cite was more like $6.00. Inflation!) He used to also say. "Lady, that beef liver's as tender as your mother's heart." Most shoppers were charmed. I tried it out once on a customer and it triggered all her undercurrent mom issues. The last I saw of her was her back, beating a hasty retreat and screaming, "My mother's heart ain't tender... #@&*+#%!!" It's been a while, so I hope things between them have improved.
Ox tails, on the other hand, are always tender. There is no such thing as a tough oxtail. And the most delectable flavor. High on our desert island menu.
If you haven't tried oxtails before, go to your neighborhood Hispanic restaurant and order the rabo de buey estofado or another featured oxtail recipe. If you don't like that, then hasta la vista, baby.
Cooky Cat is widely known in the Hispanic community. Mention him and get a complimentary flan and cafe con leche.

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