Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Pleasure to Meat You

For my birthday dinner this year Brooke took me to a Brazilian steakhouse. Ever since I first learned about the Brazilian steakhouse (or churrascaria, for Brazilian people or annoying know-it-alls), I’ve wanted to go. And it did not disappoint.

If you’re unfamiliar with the awesomeness that is a Brazilian steakhouse, congratulations on being a vegetarian. How’s that vagina working out for you? (Note: Disregard sarcasm if you are a woman; I hope your vagina is working great.) Basically, a Brazilian steakhouse is a temple to all things meat. There’s no menu. There’s no pasta special. There’s a huge salad bar and an army of men who wander the dining room with various hunks of meat on skewers, their sole mission being to feed you so much meat that it’ll take weeks for your digestive tract to get back on schedule.

You “order” using a wooden disk at your table. One side is painted red, the other green. When you want meat, you place the green side up. When you don’t want meat, you place the red side up. “Simple enough,” I think to myself as we sit down at the table. “It’s like a game of “Red Light, Green Light, 1, 2, 3” but with meat. Oh, I could call it “Red Light, Green Light, 1, 2, MEAT”! People would think that’s hilarious. I should write that down; I’ll never remember it. Maybe I’ll just tell Brook, she has a good memory. But then it’s kind of wasted on her. Not that things are wasted when I say them to her. She’s awesome. It’s just that I have a blog to think about . . .” My inner monologue gets long-winded when I am hungry.

The waiter comes to our table to explain the procedure and I give him a look that says “Yeah, like I would come to a Brazilian steakhouse without A PLAN. Asshole.” The way I see it, an all-you-can-eat buffet is a battle between me and the restaurant: They want me to fill up quickly, I want to milk them for all the food they’re worth.

I tell Brooke I have a plan and she reminds me it’s a restaurant, not an action movie. Whatever. The idea, I tell her, is to whet your appetite using the salad bar. This means eating small portions of delicious food, but also eating medium sized portions of not so delicious food. In this way, you properly whet your appetite for good food while tricking your stomach into thinking that it has to absorb as much of the good stuff (i.e. meat) as possible, before the mediocre stuff comes back. This procedure is in line with how my mind normally relates to my body (through deception and trickery), which is also how I conduct most personal relationships in life. It’s complicated, but effective.

My first plate contains mozzarella, asparagus, mushroom caps, lettuce, hard cheeses, and pasta salad. I eat in a rotating fashion: two good bites (mozzarella and cheese), one bad (lettuce). (Readers should understand that I don’t hate lettuce, I just fundamentally disagree with, and will never trust anyone who says they like lettuce.)

Brooke is going to town on her heaping plate of appetizers, but I know better. I eat slowly, purposefully. All the while, I am watching the waiters stalk the eager diners with their hunks of meat. (Ed. Note: Great line for a suspenseful chapter ending in my next romance novel.)

Finally, the time comes to flip the disk from red to green. And the second I do, it’s like chumming shark infested waters – except I’m not the prey, I’m the hunter. And the waiters are carrying my prey, so they’re more like a school of smaller fish who are incidentally attracted to the bloody scene. So the shark metaphor might be a reach. But the point is, I haven’t had this many men offering me meat since that time in college when my friend Scott and I got caught in a torrential downpour and accidentally ducked into a gay bar soaking wet.

And once the floodgates opened, it was impossible to stop them. Top round, bacon wrapped filet mignon, pork medallions, quail – the only thing more impressive than the quantity was the variety. When one guy came over and thrust a slice of medium rare beef at me saying “Pichana!” I thought he was threatening me. It turns out that’s a type of delicious steak. Which I ate a lot of.

The initial flurry was intense, like a scene out of Harry Potter when Ron mistakenly opens the wrong magical doorway, which is actually a vacuum portal leading to an elongated scene of pandemonium before Harry laboriously closes the door and a random stack of papers comes floating down to the floor – i.e. Brooke reaching over and turning my disk to red.

Instinctively, I shot her a threatening look. But in that moment, she talked me off the ledge: “Remember the plan! Slow and steady!” I took a deep breath and realized she was right. This is what they wanted me to do – to ruin my appetite by gorging on the first wave, leaving me defeated. I looked Brooke in the eye and realized all over again why I loved her.

Because she understands that the way to a man’s heart is through his meat.


Blogger Jo Ann said...

I will have you know, sir that I am a trustworthy individual, who loves, Loves, LOVES lettuce.

*note: romaine lettuce or spring mixes. That iceberg crap is for punk-ass suckas!

Not only does it taste good in salad form, it adds crispness to all sandwiches, especially if you have a hot sandwich, then put lettuce on it. It's both hot and cool and refreshing all at once!

November 12, 2008 at 1:49:00 PM EST  
Blogger Bethie said...

This looks and sounds simply amazing. I am drooling and smelling phantom meat grilling.

November 12, 2008 at 1:57:00 PM EST  
Blogger jessica mae said...

the first time i ate at a brazilian bbq, i ate so much meat that i literally couldn't eat anything for a whole day afterwards. this of course did not stop me from returning the very next week to repeat my mistake. so good.

November 12, 2008 at 2:01:00 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This was a great post, but what really got me laughing was Bethie's use of the phrase "phantom meat."

November 12, 2008 at 2:07:00 PM EST  
Blogger the gazelle said...

that sounds pretty fantastic (and although I regularly eat lettuce & lettuce like substances, I would never say I LOVE lettuce - it's just salad filler).

November 12, 2008 at 2:45:00 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did you go to Gaucho Rodizio's? That place is awesome?! My sister threw a surprise 30th there for her boyfriend because she too understands that the way to a man's heart is through his meat.

November 12, 2008 at 2:54:00 PM EST  
Blogger Vanilla said...

The Brazilian steakhouse that I frequent tries to trick you by occasionally bringing you some grilled veggies on a skewer. When I see the veggie guy stalking the diners I flip the red side up and smugly think to myself "nice try you rat bastards, but I've bested you again."

November 12, 2008 at 4:04:00 PM EST  
Blogger Not The Rockefellers said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

November 12, 2008 at 4:23:00 PM EST  
Blogger Not The Rockefellers said...

Wow. This is like porn for carnivores.

Peace - Rene

November 12, 2008 at 4:23:00 PM EST  
Anonymous spamguy said...

Austin has this restaurant or one like it, except the card is not wooden. It is still glorious.

I'm convinced that heaven and hell are the same Brazilian restaurant, except in hell there is no 'STOP' card you can use.

November 12, 2008 at 4:36:00 PM EST  
Blogger Arielle said...

I love Brazilian BBQ. Does it get any better than meat on swords? I think not. Except when they come around with the chicken hearts. Then I flip that shit to red.

November 12, 2008 at 4:49:00 PM EST  
Blogger Uncle Ebenezer said...

You had me at "bacon-wrapped filet mignon". No, wait, you actually had me at "vagina". No, no it was definitely at "bacon".

November 12, 2008 at 5:12:00 PM EST  
Anonymous Scottsdale Girl said...


Why isn't this a post about waxing?

November 12, 2008 at 5:29:00 PM EST  
Blogger kate said...

I went to Plataform in Manhattan twice this summer. I think one guy brought around turkey wrapped in bacon, and then the next guy had bacon wrapped in turkey. Anything is possible.

November 12, 2008 at 8:41:00 PM EST  
Blogger SuperBee said...

Fogo de Chao? Porcao? or that Gaucho one?

I once went to the Knife. It was in the Grove. It has since closed.

Their plan there was to get you wasted on a bottle of red wine, so you wouldn't eat so much meat. (Which wasn't so great there anyway.)

Fogo's on my list after Thanksgiving. Until then I need to trim down and an evening at the MeatGrotto is definitely not the way to accomplish that goal.

November 12, 2008 at 11:05:00 PM EST  
Blogger Dr. Kenneth Noisewater said...

My problem with those places is I just keep that go signal up in front of me until I have a meat-coma.

Wait, that's not a PROBLEM. I love those places!

November 13, 2008 at 12:24:00 AM EST  
Blogger sid said...

ha ha ha. knowing me I probably would have skipped the appetizers altogether and moved on straight to the good stuff

November 13, 2008 at 12:51:00 AM EST  
Blogger DevilsHeaven said...

Oh yeah, I've had this experience, the meat was AMAZING. Although I would suggest skipping the salad bar all together to leave every possible millimeter of stomach for the meat.

November 13, 2008 at 8:54:00 AM EST  
Blogger David said...

Woah. Hold on.

How does the payment for these places work? Is it like pay up front, and eat all the meat you want or more realistically just super expensive? If it is anything like a normal buffet I will be at a brazilian bbq TONIGHT!

November 13, 2008 at 1:59:00 PM EST  
Blogger Beach Bum said...

How did you live in NYC without trying the churrascarias there? (And for the record, I'm Brazilian, not a know it all.)

There are two: Churrascaria Plataforma and Porcão.

And your plan is the plan of an amateur. Brazilians don't eat the salad/appetizers and then turn to green. You turn to green as soon as you get back to your table. So you eat the meat WITH the salad. Not after. If there's anything that should be a leftover after you're stuffed it's the salad, not the meat.

Tsc tsc tsc... Amateurs...

November 13, 2008 at 7:07:00 PM EST  
Anonymous UrbanVox said...

oooooooooooooohhh yessss!!!
I'll have to agree with you!!
my type of place really!!
Specially when you're raised in the south of Brazil where anything is an excuse for Churrasco!!!

yum yum yum...

me needs churrasco... been 2 months since my last time in a churrascaria!!!

November 14, 2008 at 4:21:00 PM EST  
Blogger weesle909 said...

Last time I went, I swear I ate more animals than Noah had on his ark. Awesome.

And lettuce is simply the medium through which one consumes salad dressing...

November 14, 2008 at 4:41:00 PM EST  
Blogger Bob said...

I did the red stick/green stick thing at this sad restaurant at this big old 57 Coupe de Ville of a hotel at the Lake of the Ozarks once. Didn't know it actually had a geographically huge but non-densely populated South American gustato-cultural label attached to it.

I wonder how long until some sleazy American porn producer makes a Brazilian she-male movie with guys at tables with red and green "sticks" indicating when they are ready for some more tranny meat. And a tossed salad buffet.

November 15, 2008 at 10:18:00 AM EST  
Anonymous e said...

At any point during the evening, did you use the infamous Friends line, "uh-oh.. here come the meat sweats" or actually get meat sweats? Cause that would be a shame if not.

November 17, 2008 at 12:53:00 AM EST  
Blogger jiggins said...

First Of all "Bob - Thief of hearts" huh?

And I have been to these.. they scare me - but I go.. drawn in by the scent of grilling meats and wandering waiters with plenty of it!

November 17, 2008 at 3:24:00 AM EST  
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