The New Soy Technology

Some friends of ours had German guests visiting, and were going to take them to In & Out Burger. “I hope they have soy burgers,” said friend Amanda. “Our friends don’t eat any meat.” I suggested she get them regular burgers and tell them that they were soy burgers, and that they’d made incredible advances in soy technology. Germans are gullible that way. Suffering a national cuisine inferiority complex with France and Italy as neighbors, they’re likely to act overly knowledgeable and tell you they already knew that.

Meat grown in a lab

I was reminded of one of my younger sister, Siobhan’s, bouts of vegetarianism when we were teenagers. I was trying to get her to eat a chicken breast, and she was protesting. “They don’t have to kill the chicken,” I said, “they just cut the breasts off and they grow back. Like a lizard’s tail!” She glared at me. She also wasn’t buying my contention that to get chicken broth, all you had to do was wring the live chicken out over a pot. (More like “juicing” a chicken.) More

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Harvey’s Guss Meat Co.

Is it possible for four people to eat six pounds of porterhouse steak? When my friend, Greg, brought over said meat (handsomely profiled in a previous post, “The Emperor of Steaks”), we figured there was going to be a LOT of leftovers. There was not. Usually my wife and I eat half a pound between us. But this was some seriously good dry-aged meat. We had a first serving. Then a second… None of us could stop. This was dry-aged nirvana from the hallowed coolers of Harvey’s Guss Meat Co. in Mid City L.A.

Meat mural

Our bookkeeper, Joe Gussman, had been telling us for years to come visit his dad’s butcher shop sometime when he was working. I made a mental note but never got around to following up. But one day friend Greg asked me whether I knew of Harvey’s Guss, the fabled L.A. butcher. I connected the dots but had my wife give Joe a ring just to confirm.

Fast forward a couple months after the porterhouse, and I decided to visit Harvey’s Guss myself. I ordered two 2-inch thick rib steaks on the bone — my favorite cut. Just by chance, Harvey was out of town so Joe was in charge when I went to pick up my steaks. The place is located in a strange confluence of streets and cultures — where the Fairfax Ethiopian neighborhood abuts the old Jewish Mid City abuts mini-Tijuanas all around. If you were driving along looking for it you’d probably miss it. Was it in that apartment building I just passed, or was that a warehouse? And you can’t turn on the street where it sits, like water for thirsty Tantalus, just out of reach. So you must drive around and around until you figure your way through the labyrinth. There’s no open sign, no helpful customer service associate to assist you, you enter through a metal security door into a space where white-frocked workers are busy. They wave you in, point you to the office. That’s where Joe (or probably Harvey when he’s around) sits, sorting orders, answering the phone. This is meat at its most glorious, and meat sales at its most elementary. If you want a nice gift box, go to an Omaha Steaks boutique. If you want a bag to put your meat in, bring one.

I got a tour of the dry aging cooler, which maybe all customers get if they ask. I prefer to think it was a privilege of knowing Harvey’s son. Joe graciously consented to my filming his explanation of what I was seeing to share with you. Here it is:

Funny to think when I was younger I didn’t like steak.

In case you don’t feel like clicking over to the links page to find your own way to Harvey’s Guss, here’s the info you need: (And don’t forget, call a day ahead. The Gussmen are busy and have meat to sell…)

Harvey’s Guss Meat Co.
949 S. Ogden Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90036
(323) 937- 4622

http://www.harveysgussmeat.com/home.html