From the pages of Travelling Shoes ¥ Number One, Summer 1997 (P.O. Box 206653, New Haven, CT 06520-6653; $2)
The Cult of Prime Rib
By H.D. Miller
Signs advertising inexpensive prime rib are everywhere in Las Vegas. They’re more ubiquitous than advertisements for Siegfried and Roy; more common than pictures of Wayne Newton. The marquee of every hotel, every casino, and every two-bit juke joint in town touts a low-cost prime rib meal. And, if we can believe those marquees, prime rib isn’t just for dinner anymore. Instead, the erstwhile glutton can now enjoy prime rib for lunch, prime rib for brunch, prime rib with eggs in the morning, prime rib as midnight snack, and even prime rib as an appetizer before the main course. In short, prime rib in every possible culinary permutation and combination, at every possible dining opportunity.
In Las Vegas, even the most pathetic, down-on-his-luck low-roller can scrape up enough money to satisfy that nagging blood lust. The city is paradise for the frugal carnivore. It’s one of the last great beef-eating towns in these entire chicken-eating United States: a place of glorious, corn-fed, fattened-up, feedlot excess, where cholesterol and calories and clogged arteries aren’t mentioned and don’t matter. “Would you like another pint of sour cream and some more bacon bits on that baked potato, Sir?” is the rallying cry for legions of waddling visitors, all intent on driving the entire Angus breed to the very brink of extinction.
Maybe my ambivalence towards cheap prime rib comes from some twisted belief in the sanctity of prime rib–a belief that good cuts of meat, like fine champagne, should be reserved for special occasions. Dammit, prime rib should be earned by hard labor and is a manifestation of God’s approval. It shouldn’t be spread around willy-nilly, at bargain rates, to those who are less deserving of His grace. Apparently, it’s come to this–after 350 years of rough usage, the only vestige of hardcore American Calvinism is a faint nagging about the appropriateness of dinner entrees.
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