Americans love red meat. More particularly, they love beef. Always have. Archaeology of colonial America shows that British North Americans ate as much beef as they possibly could. Fish? No thank you. Beef? More, please.
This British chauvinism for beef (the French, after all, called the English “les rosbifs”) became an American chauvinism. But where colonial Americans ate their beef in a variety of strange cuts, mostly boiled, by the post Civil War having the freshest possible beef became a passion, a health craze in fact.
We’ve talked about cattle drives in Episode 101 with Tim Lehman. This time, though, we’re eating the whole cow. I talk with Joshua Specht, whose new book Red Meat Republic: A Hoof-to-Table History of How Beef Changed America describes the entire “beef economy” of the nineteenth century–from the seizing of ranch land from Plains Indians, to the dining room tables of New York and Indiana. Along the way he touches not only on cattle drives, but on feedlots, packing plants, and “beef riots” that happened in the most unusual places. It’s a delicious podcast, even if you’re Vegan.