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Steak: One Man's Search for the World's Tastiest Piece of Beef

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3.90  ·  Rating details ·  429 ratings  ·  69 reviews
The definitive book on steak has never been written-until now

"Of all the meats, only one merits its own structure. There is no such place as a lamb house or a pork house, but even a small town can have a steak house." So begins Mark Schatzker's ultimate carnivorous quest. Fed up with one too many mediocre steaks, the intrepid journalist set out to track down, define,
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Hardcover, 304 pages
Published April 29th 2010 by Viking (first published 2010)
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Average rating 3.90  · 
Rating details
 ·  429 ratings  ·  69 reviews


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Matthew
Apr 22, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: food-related
I won this on Firstreads and rather enjoyed it. It wasn't laid out in a manner that made sense to me, but that just slowed down my reading of it, not my enjoyment.

Schatzker brings us through 8 locations as he eats his way around the world looking for the perfect piece of steak. The story brings us fascinating characters worldwide who all know cows, beef, and what they like. He also brings us through the history of beef in those locations, including a fascinating breeding program by the Nazi's,
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Jonathan
Jun 15, 2019 rated it liked it
A fun book to read. Unsurprisingly, if you are not inherently interested and curious in the subject (ie steak) the book won't be enjoyable. However, if you are a steak lover and enjoy experimentation, tastings, and methodological approaches to discovery, this is up your alley - consider this the Wirecutter approach to understanding steak; lots of diligence, transparency and honesty. The goal was clear, find the best steak in the world; the approach was to go to the top steak regions, countries ...more
Lissa1229
This book made me hungry!
It was intresting tale of ones man hunt for the perfect steak. Being from the midwest, I love steak and I like a good quest, so I was excited to read this.
The author was good at discribing thing especially a bad steak or a good one. I liked his anology of how people will nit pick over a glass of wine but pay little attention to the meat!
I could see this book leading to cookbooks, places to visit or
you might see on a travel channel or food network.
My one problem with
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George
Apr 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A comprehensive book that attempts to answer what makes a steak good. The Canadian author journeys around the world from the United States, Europe, Japan and South America tasting steaks and talking to experts to figure out the key parameters. He even experiments with raising his own heifer. The not-so-simple answer is you want certain breeds, fed on sweet grass, slowly fattened, and living in a stress free environment. This is beef atypical of what you find on the supermarket shelves.
pianogal
May 21, 2018 rated it it was ok
I don't know if I didn't like this one because I don't like steak in general or because I'm not a fan of the author. It just felt like he was really negative about everything. It sticks with me that he repeatedly described steak as tasting swampy. Yuck. Again - this could be that I don't like steak, much less swampy steak.

Or maybe he just needed some ketchup.
Andre
Jul 30, 2019 rated it it was ok
Good:
* A lot of factoids about beef.

Bad:
* Written for steak fanatics, especially those who cook the steak themselves. For others, this book is superfluous.
Hannah
Jun 01, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: book-club, nonfiction
S3V2L3
Karen
Mar 09, 2017 rated it did not like it
Boo hiss. So much blah blah blah and no mention of Canadian beef! We have the best in the world!
christine.
May 12, 2010 rated it really liked it
Let's get this out of the way: I don't particularly care for steak.

I'm a pretty picky eater. I hate onions. Lettuce. Tomato. As you can imagine, the sandwich can be my worst nightmare. I'm also lactose intolerant, and I have a stomach condition that makes eating hellish sometimes.

But beyond this pickiness, I am sort of a foodie. I've eaten sweetbreads, wild boar, quail, jellyfish, squid ink, and enjoyed it all. I read blogs like Serious Eats and The Girl Who Ate Everything on a daily basis, and
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Mollie *scoutrmom*
Apr 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: foodies and memoir fans
I won an advance copy of this book in a drawing, and read it with the determination of not letting that fact influence me in favor of the book. I needn't have worried, quality speaks for itself. I expected a version of a cookbook, and found instead a well-written memoir. The quest for the perfect mouth-watering experience is not easily or often well-written, except in this case.

What I liked most about this book is that it is a description of the journey as well as of the destination. There are
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Kim
Apr 15, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: food-cooking
What a fun and fascinating read. Author Mark Schatzker decides after too many mouthfuls of textured saltwater to go looking for the steak of his dreams. It's something he'd been vaguely doing for a long time, but which crystallized into an active quest after he discovered that even something as unappealing as mutton can be made into food for the gods, so long as you eat it in the one place where they know how to do that. So to his mind, there HAS to be a place in the world where the steaks offer ...more
Jessica
Apr 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Full disclosure: I received an ARC of this book through the Goodreads First Reads program.

I absolutely loved this book! Mark Schatzker writes about his quest for the perfect steak, including his trips around the world to Texas, France, Scotland, Italy, Japan, and Argentina and his attempts to raise his own cow for the perfect steak. The book is full of so much interesting information about the history and current state of steak, including a vein that runs throughout the book that covers the
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Shavonya
Apr 22, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fic, first-read
This is a very interesting book. Mark is so involved with his project of the "unltimate carnivores" quest that he takes you along with him. As a culinary student for years I have heard that nothing taste like it used to and this book explains that with a depth that is not preach-y or boring. Mark's word play and descriptive talents are wonderful. He also has a great since of humour. He gives alot of historical information about extinct cattle and scientific fact about cattle different breeds, ...more
Amber Sky
Nov 17, 2010 rated it really liked it
Best part I've read so far (after the author has written about his experience eating Scottish Highlander cattle, that has not been "tinkered with" in terms of selective breeding to produce faster growtime and higher meat yields):

"Outstanding meat is the enemy of thought. It causes a single-minded focus on the pleasures of the mouth. We tore through the rib eyes, and then through the pope's eyes[odd name for a certain cut, I think it was bottom round here in america], communicating via groans
...more
Neil
Apr 06, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
This book was awesome. I must have a sympathetic salivary response because I was constantly finding my mouth watering as I read the author's descriptions of the steak he was eating.

One of themes in the book I enjoyed the most was the idea of terroir, a french term used to describe wine, conveying the idea that the geography of a food influences its flavor. This is referred to by one of the book's characters as a pure savor which she describes as something in which you can taste the land it was
...more
bethanne
Apr 15, 2010 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: steak lovers
Recommended to bethanne by: goodreads!
Full disclosure: I love traveling books and I love books about food. When I saw this on Goodreads' First Reads, I had to enter and lo and behold, I won. And I was really really excited to read this book. The premise is simple: a man goes on a world journey in search of the perfect steak. His travels take him from Texas to Japan to France and other places in search of that perfect steak.

From what I had read on the back cover of the book, I expected this to be a humorous approach to steak and have
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Brian
Sep 03, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
I learned a lot from this book, mostly about how I have probably never had a really good steak in my life. It is almost impossible to get a good steak in America, not even from the really high class restaurants. It is all coming from feed lots, and while there are some cows in the American population that are good tasting, nobody is tracking that. For 40 years or more, all the cows in America have been bred for efficiency and productivity, without regard to taste. The genes are there, but rare. ...more
Regina
Apr 08, 2010 rated it really liked it
The author went to great lengths to thoroughly research his subject and what he found educated me in ways I could not have otherwise learned. It was a good read, but not a 'quick' read. His writing style is clever and familiar, yet some chapters dragged on while others had me page turning quickly. For instance, I eagerly anticipated the chapter on France but was disappointed on a prolonged dissertation on aurochs. However, I expected little interest on the chapter on Japan, but was engaged and ...more
Melanie Baker
Apr 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I was a tad surprised at how fascinating I found this book. While the author goes around the world ostensibly in search of the best hunk of beef out there, he gets into cattle breeds and their histories and relative merits and shortcomings, husbandry from feed to slaughter, cultural norms in various regions as they pertain to raising and eating animals, and even the science behind the tastes, textures, and nutrition of the meat.

Thanks to the "real" food movement, there's a fair bit many of us
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Michael
Aug 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
In the last 10 years, I would rank my top three steaks as:
:
:
#1 Bison Ribeye The Laundry in Steamboat Colorado
#2 Bone-in filet mignon The Capital Grille (Las Vegas)
#3 Sous Vide Ribeye at The Hound Lounge Around
:
:
My earliest recollection of enjoying a steak was around the age of eight and a steak from Dreisbach's Restaurant in Grand Island, Nebraska. I liked it so much I requested fat scraps off my parents trimmed up orders.
:
:
In STEAK, Mark Schatzker travel four continents, across thousands of
...more
Caroline
Apr 15, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: all-the-ologies
Adding his voice to the growing genre of gastro--lit, Schatzker delves into the history and present of one of my favorite foods: Steak. Schatzker travels the globe looking for delicious steak, taking us along for the ride. In the beginning he knows basics about steak, essentially what most semi-educated consumers in America have read through food blogs and news articles. He presents the information he gathers along his journey in easily digestible (sorry, couldn't help it) snippets, covering ...more
Joe Beer
Jan 12, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The world is filled with wine and whiskey drinkers, experts, books, shows and TV programmes. A lot is said about different cultivars, tastes, techniques etc. Why not the same for steaks?

The book makes the point that in a restaurant you order a steak and within a few seconds you choose the cut and how you want it cooked. Then a few minutes to choose the sauce and even longer before you know the wine you want. But the bulk of the meal is the steak so spend more time on choosing it!

If we value
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Drew
Sep 21, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I actually didn't get to finish Steak. When I checked it out of the library I anticipated losing interest by the third chapter; I generally don't like these kinds of books. But since I work as a meat cutter, I figure I should at least give it a try. That I made it three quarters of the way through is a small achievement. I learned quite a bit about beef that I didn't already know. His stories were both compelling and laborious. I was more interested in his discussion of how beef is raised, ...more
Sarah
Apr 15, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Steak-lovers, travelers, foodies
Shelves: 2010, first-reads
STEAK! OK, so it turns out that steak sold in the US is about the worst you can get. If, like me, you have only ever eaten US-grown steak and still found it to be full of noms, then reading this book will leave you lusting for your very own international steak-chomping excursion. Alas, most of us can't get a book deal to fund such a trip, but I guess living vicariously through the author is the next best thing. This book has more information about steak than I knew existed ...it'd make a great ...more
Cecelia
I found this book both easy to understand and informative. I felt that it took the side of grass fed but that it amended that to only those whose growers understand the grass, soil, and feed that they are feeding their stock. I also found his explorations of cultural differences intriguing and his conclusions about consumerism fascinating. Overall I'd probably recommen this book to any one with an interest in beef, food, or the current food industry. It doesn't make much mention of other species ...more
Maria
Aug 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I was surprised to find myself reaching for this book. I'm not a steak eater, but the subject of food production generally interests me. This book contributes to that discussion from a perspective you rarely hear from, a meat lover in search of the best meat. The author focuses on the outcome - the quality and eating properties of the meat and works backwards to figure out what leads to good or bad meat. His eating experiences and the conclusions he draws are very interesting. It's also an ...more
Typogirl
Jul 23, 2010 rated it really liked it
My daughter rolled her eyes when she saw me grab this book. I confess, I have a weakness for odd nonfiction books. This one fit the bill. It was an entertaining and intriguing read into what makes a good steak. Not surprisingly, factory farming isn't it. But it also involves how you prepare the steak, what you didn't do, how quickly or not you grill it, and simply, what your personal preferences might be.

Schatzker blends a foodie book with travel essays to Japan, Argentina, the U.S. and Europe
...more
Melody
Sep 30, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Omnivores, carnivores & their friends
Schatzker is a good writer and a funny one. This book is part travel journal, part memoir, part scientific investigation, part food writing, and a complete delight. If you have the slightest interest in eating beef, this is certainly worth picking up. I learned so much, especially about terroir and soil and grass. I laughed out loud when he went to visit Temple Grandin- all roads beefy lead to her, somehow. His account of buying and raising his own cows was deeply moving and interesting as well. ...more
Tushar Gargava
I'm a vegetarian. I read this out of curiosity.

I have nothing to add right now except that the author writes what he aims for. I would have loved if he'd brought to light the cruelty cows go through while in the slaughter houses, or anything of that sort, because he has talked about everything a lot.

Also, the writing style is impeccable. I could notice myself fantasizing about getting to taste at least one steak before I die. But, not gonna happen.

Anyway, if you like steaks, read this book. It's
...more
David
Jul 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
Fun and informative read about why modern beef tastes nothing like it did even a generation ago. Learned a lot about grass feeding and why it isn't as simple as turning cows out to pasture. The various jaunts to places around the world to sample steak were enjoyable, and chapters about breeds, modern farming and taste and flavor that could have been dry or lecturing were juicy and pleasing -- as all steak should be. You definitely won't settle for any old grain-fed supermarket steak after ...more
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78 followers
In my new book, THE DORITO EFFECT, I examine the food crisis -- obesity, metabolic disease, etc., through the lens of flavor. For 50 years, we've been arguing over fat, carbs and sugar. Does the way food taste have something to do with how much people eat? I think the answer will surprise, frighten, and thrill you. My first book, which came out in 2010, was STEAK, in which I traveled the world ...more