Meat!  Last week in La Rochelle, I had the best entrecote I have ever had in France.  But that’s not saying much.  As I was cutting through it, I was wondering where all the filet mignon are hiding?

Think about it. OK. It’s a big cow.  And the filet mignon spot is relatively small.  But still… I think I may have seen la Tete du veau (calf’s head) on the menu more than filet mignon.

OK I have to stop this description or I won’t be able to eat beef for a while.

I am a wimp.  I couldn’t take biology in high school because I refused to cut up a frog.  Or anything.  I took chemistry AND physics to avoid it.  And I was 22 before I could skin a chicken breast.  And then I had to put on rubber gloves!  If it looks too much like it was alive, I’m done.   Some idiots at a fancy conference meal of surf and turf picker up their lobsters and made them walk on the table.  I picked up my plate of steak and changed tables.  And when I was 9 years old, a delightful family friend cooked a 4 course meal for my family.  He placed the  plates of fish in front of me and my mom first, then went back to the kitchen to get the other plates for the rest of the family.   Clearly my discomfort was obvious for, on his last trip to the kitchen, he picked up my plate and said “let me remove this offensive creature.”  I was in love from him from then on.  I mean, really?  The whole fish, scales and all and this one eye peering up at me!  Shocking!

In 2001 I stopped eating red meat.  It was an energetic thing.  My body just wasn’t interested.  Which was fine until I decided to move to Paris.  I made a conscious decision to incorporate beef back into my diet.  My choices were too limited without it.

But entrecote?  I was getting so tired of it.  In La Rochelle I found myself longing for a filet mignon.  So a quest started.

First I had to figure out what they called it.  Did you know that US, UK, and France all use different naming constructs for the cow?  Here are links to pictures and stories.  I like the article from the Telegraph about the French butcher who says British beef is better than French and he got kicked out of the butchers’ association.

I had to stop my internet investigations because I was seeing too many charts that had the face of a happy cow staring at me while the rest of it was marked up for how to butcher it.  I would have been terrible in 4H.

My quest didn’t take long – even though I reached several deadends – my foodie-est friends knew no restaurants with fabulous steak.  However, a friend who has lived in France 30 years called me for dinner.  I told her of my desire for a good steak and she found a place.  La Maison d’Aubrac.   And miam miam!  A true glorious tasty steak.  On my English menu, they called it Tenderloin.  I was so deliriously happy I didn’t check the French menu.  But no worries.  I will go back.  And no need to dream about Ruth Chris Steakhouse anymore.  I have a local place!


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