A Quest Begins (The Epilogue)

What I’ve been attempting to do in this series (“A Quest Begins”) is certainly no more than Theodore Roosevelt attempted in African Game Trails, the serial account, written from the hunting fields, of the African safari on which he embarked just after his presidency (and if this sounds like hyperbole, it is). Our quarry: not water buffalo, elephants, and lions but simply the best beef we’ve ever tasted. Our field: not the savannahs of the Dark Continent but the farms and ranches of North America. Apparently, judging from a Wall Street Journal article (“Having a Cow About Steak Quality”), this has not been the first attempt at such a quest but one undertaken by Mark Schatzker and chronicled his book Steak: One Man’s Search for the World’s Tastiest Piece of Beef .

In Parts I & II of “A Quest Begins”, mention was made of there being two places where our initial search for great beef would take us: a ranch in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains and a farm on the plains of Nebraska. Having already related in the previous post of how a great conflagration prevented the first meeting, what of the second? Thwarted: this time not by some apocalyptic event but by the very mundane (apparently, our contact–the civic minded Midwesterner that he is, as all those in the Midwest are–had scheduled our meeting on a day that he was already refereeing youth athletics, a commitment that apparently could not be broken).

This epilogue considers the import of what can be called these two Great Thwartings. Like Father Sorin looking upon the burnt rubble of Notre Dame’s first dome (please see “A Quest Begins [Part I]“), it didn’t take long to see the hand of Providence in it all, to discern a Grand Re-direction. To explain, this spring–in preparing for a presentation I would be delivering–something unlooked for found me. And what found me was exactly what I was looking for, only I didn’t even know I was looking for it. The only proper, adequate response to such an experience is that of a profound reverence, awe, and gratitude. And that which found me this spring was a product that evokes a sense of wonder, a sense of the mythic, a product that makes a direct appeal to the imagination. It conjures up images of the Shire and makes it real. Then and there was the immediate recognition that my company would be introducing this product to the market (along with our more conventional beef product) for here was something that would do for the meat market what the microbrew movement has been doing for the beer market over the past 20 years: shifting culture (or, shifting with culture) away from mass production to micro-production; from homogeneity of flavor to a veritable flavor “palate”; from the impersonal to the personal; from multi-national to local; from the machinery of industry to the craft of the artisan. But, I wanted it both ways: I wanted my company to carry this product plus the more conventional beef product that I had been seeking in Colorado and Nebraska. Thus, the Twartings.

My mind, even now, makes further sense of it all by drawing from the imagery of marriage, such as the one we witnessed this summer at La Foret in Blackforest, CO (please see “A Quest Begins [Part II]“), for what is marriage but a forsaking of all others and favoring one? It is precisely in this forsaking (and only because of it) that a person embarks on some unknown, great adventure fraught with drama but filled with romance (romance used here in the classical sense). Those two Great Thwartings gave my company its focus, its direction, its adventure. With some struggle, Duba’s Steaks has cut ties with a more conventional beef product and has bound itself to the romance of that which is embodied by what I simply will call for now “artisan meats,” or “Meats from the Shire…”

This series is dedicated to three men: Paul, the first to follow this blog and a Ghostbusters fan[atic]; Ben, at whose suggestion our quest was inspired; and Aaron, whose constant support, insight, and friendship is a gift beyond measure. Of, course, this post is also dedicated to my wife, Erin, who is the “one”.

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