My family was in town last week and on Saturday we went to Peter Luger, a wood-paneled steak house next to the Williamsburg Bridge in Brooklyn. There were plates of hash browns, bowls of creamed spinach and pitchers of mahogany-colored steak sauce. The slabs of bacon, plopped down on our plates by an appropriately uninterested waiter, were simultaneously crisp and tender. The porterhouse steak arrived sizzling and the “shlag,” a thick pillow of whipped cream that accompanied the key lime pie, was divine.
I have been a vegetarian in the past. I shunned flesh for a few years back the heart of my awkward teenage phase, straddling the transition from junior high to high school. I don’t really remember why I decided to stop eating meat. I think it had to do with learning the source of foie gras, or perhaps it was about veal. It had to do with rebellion, too, and the knowledge that my choices at the table could say something, even if I wasn’t sure what I wanted to say. It certainly stuck with some people. Members of my extended family to this day, over a decade later, still ask me with their eyebrows raised: “So, Molly, are you eating meat yet?”
I also don’t remember why I later halted the vegetarianism. But I do know that it was on a cool fall afternoon in suburban Boston, circa 1997. It had something to do my friend Ashley, McDonalds, and a chicken sandwich. Perhaps I just remembered that I like meat.
Peter Luger's Steak House is a place for people who like meat. And we ate a lot of meat that night last week. The porterhouse – a tenderloin and a strip steak separated by the thick, T-shaped bone – was served, sliced and glossy pink-in-the-middle, with a spoonful of buttery pan juices. The bacon was slathered in sauce. We took some of the leftovers home with the intention of eating them for lunch the next day.
But the next day around noon we took the bag from the fridge and opened it. I could smell the salty fat, the thick flesh, and the buttery pan juices. I closed it again. Sometimes, meat and I? We just I need a break.