Walk with me. Let’s say that you’re religious. You firmly believe that you were conceived by an omnipotent God for the purpose of inhabiting the earth. You also believe that cows were created for a similar imperative of habitation, but you understand that their role is slightly different. They are designed for consumption, our consumption at that, because we sit on a mantelpiece highest in the room. We are the upper echelon of God’s creative hierarchy.
Now let’s say that you’re atheistic. You believe that both human beings, and cows are the result of an evolutionary process. By happenstance our genetic coding allowed us to assume the role of apex predators on the planet. Cows really didn’t get so lucky, and they sit a couple hundred notches below us. It is almost unanimously believed that we are in our right to feed upon these lesser creatures, with the exception of those who practice Hinduism and those who pretend to be vegan. So, we do feed upon them. Society deems it just, and moral relativism reigns supreme.
Put colloquially, we eat cows. Beef has been an indulgence and fuel source of human beings for eons. Hyperbole. But oh, oh, oh, how it has ever changed throughout our history. Funny enough, if you look at the lengths we’ve gone to alter our consumption of our delicious spotted friends, it provides some insight into our species as a whole. It serves as a brilliant symbol of our tendency to maximize the pleasure and potential of every aspect of our existence on our microscopic planet.
So, we were either materialized into a garden, or fish that have learned to walk. Either way, we’re about to devour a cow with our fellow brethren. How do we do it?
Well for starters we could eat it raw. It doesn’t taste fantastic, and there is a decent chance that we contract sickness from the bacteria. So naturally, our earliest hunter-gatherer ancestors began throwing it over the fire, or boiling it in cauldrons, so long as it was cooked throughout. It tastes much better, and has less health risks associated. Ergo, cooking.
So we stopped there right? Wrong. Through what I assume was an accident we came to a realization that salt greatly enhances the flavour of our animals. Once we developed a taste for salted beef, there was no turning back to unseasoned meat. Milk and honey start tasting drab after sampling the nectar of the gods. Now we use pepper, chilis, soy sauce, garlic, mashed thyme rubs, herbal butter, etc. The sky is the limit, and we’re building ladders on top of Atlas’s shoulders. Ergo, Seasonings.
So we stopped there right? Wrong. We began butchering our cows in specific ways, isolating the beast into individual pieces with different flavour and texture profiles. We came to the realization that these cuts taste far better when seared on high heat so that a crust develops on the outside, to the point of almost being charred. The inside, remains approximately 130° to 135° Fahrenheit, a perfect medium rare. We have been made so picky about that perfect pink interior that we’ll send chefs that don’t get it right off to town square to be publicly hanged, drawn, and quartered. More hyperbole. Ergo, steaks.
So we stopped there right? Wrong. We stored our cuts of beef in cold, dry places for extended periods. We let mould develop on the outer layer to protect the interior from rotting. Over time the moisture in the meat evaporates, and the flavour intensifies. Something akin to reducing a sauce in a pan, or aging a cheese. Essentially, we let bacteria partially spoil our food to make the flavour profile more intense. Allegedly, it tastes leagues better than beef that doesn’t undergo this lucrative process. Fortune hasn’t favoured me enough to be able to speak on that claim myself. Ergo, dry-aged beef.
So, we stopped there… right? Wrong. You’ll never learn. We discovered that a certain genetic strand of Japanese cow had significantly more fat marbling than any other breed. If you’ve ever heard anyone say anything ever, you’ll have heard that fat is flavour. We took those cows, and bred them in a method that restricts movement, so that already fatty meat becomes even more fatty through lack of exercise. We monitor their diet to exactitude, and ensure they only consume flavoursome – and fattening food. The meat is the best earth has to offer. It will melt like butter upon touching your tongue. A single bite goes for $20 or more, and the experience you will have consuming these animals makes you feel like you died for a moment and saw that heaven awaited. Ergo, wagyu beef.
Quick recap. We take our cohabitant species, the cow, and hand pick the cream of the crop in terms of meat quality. We restrict its grazing habits to make them as fatty as they can be. We hang them up in our dry aging rooms to intensify and develop a different flavour profile. We cut the meat up into specific portions, season it with the finest ingredients. Sear the outside, in pans, in broilers, on grills, and with blow torches. Ensure that the interior is just uncooked enough that we can maximize taste, to the exact degree in temperature. Finish it with a garlic butter and thyme brush, then let it rest for as long as you cooked it to retain juiciness. Only then do we consider our dining experience to be supreme. Our hunter gatherer ancestors would look at us like we’re mad scientists. Ergo, dry aged wagyu steak.
At this point you may be questioning the efforts expended to conjure up such a luxury. In all likelihood, the consumer is some rich, narcissistic prick splurging his latest top %1 paycheque to feast on a delicacy most will never be able to. What a wasteful, selfish use of resources. Why the hell would any amalgam of human beings contribute to such extravagance? The answer, is because we can.
It might be a more efficient use of our resources to reallocate the efforts we thrust towards high quality steaks into another field. We could feed the less fortunate, ensure that they have necessary sustenance. Perhaps we could seek the enrichment of nutrients in our food, taste seems like such a trivial pleasantry in comparison to the betterment of our species. Nevertheless, I genuinely contend that what I’ve just stated is thinking too implicitly for proper living. Humanity will always be a commonplace for action without understanding every repercussion or even knowing why we act in the first place. We don’t need to know that what we do is good, or why we do what we do. Think every random drip Jackson Pollock threw at a canvas. He never waited to consider the meaning behind his actions, each drip was arbitrary and sporadic. I doubt he gave much in-depth contemplation to whether he was using his time wastefully, he simply did what he felt like doing, and in the process created something beautiful. I’m sure he would have loved dry-aged wagyu.
Take the film Jurassic Park, the character by the name of Dr. Malcolm utters the line, “Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, that they didn’t stop to think if they should.” In relation to the creation of the park. The line also alludes towards our proclivity for self-destruction as human beings. When moving forward, we are often so absorbed in the feeling of progression that we don’t bother glancing up at the final destination. Despite Dr. Malcolm’s trepidations, I see this as a positive trait. It is what fuels every notable accomplishment of man. Personally, if I was John Hammond I would have created Jurassic Park again if I had a chance to do it over. I made a colossal leap in science to recreate a childhood fantasy, only a few died in the process. It’s better to strike out swinging than to never play baseball because it doesn’t reduce the world’s carbon emissions.
Both Jurassic Park, and eccentric Wagyu recipes in a way, subtract from the lifespan of humanity. Looking at it from the standpoint of efficiency both, are highly flawed behaviours. One could say that to keep our species alive we should be doing other things. Yet, our existence shouldn’t be about maximizing the time until humanity’s inevitable destruction. It should be about extracting every last bit of fulfillment from that which we hold near and dear to our hearts while we’re still kicking. Some recklessness is warranted even if it does shorten the script of life, the curtains close at an arbitrary time after all.
We are flawed creatures at our core, our actions are riddled with errors. Thus, we shouldn’t limit ourselves from achieving greatness just because we are trying to be perfect. Melt the ice caps, hold lofty ambitions that stretch past the attic, chase crazy dreams that Freud couldn’t decipher, and try to push 300 mph on a winding road watching the speedometer the whole time. Be smart, but think about what you can do and do it, seldom stop and ponder whether you should. Eat dry aged wagyu steaks and build Jurassic Park without ever considering that you’re hastening the destruction of man. Longevity isn’t what makes something beautiful.