I’m not a cheapskate by a long shot, but if you saw some of our sheets and towels you might think I should pay a visit to Goodwill -- as a customer.
But I, along with my spouse, have been a little self-indulgent over the years, visiting foreign countries by land and by sea, dining in upscale restaurants, and occasionally purchasing a pricey garment or pair of shoes that could well have been spent on something more sensible.
But I am the queen of rationalization and can come up with a convincing justification for every dime I spend no matter how guilty I may feel at the moment of purchase. But even I have a cutoff point. And it’s somewhere just south of laying down $275 for a serving of meat.
In case you’ve been off sunning yourself at your oceanside villa for the last few weeks, you might not be aware that a small, local dining establishment has put on its menu a beefsteak that goes for $275 a pop. I find that idea slightly off-putting, but I know there are a few folks out there, wealthy and not so wealthy, who are rushing to reserve one of these fancy viandes so they can be the first on their block to announce that they've sampled this delicacy – if an 18-ounce slab of beef can be considered a delicacy.
I enjoy fine dining, but in my opinion a $275 steak crosses the line from fine dining to wretched excess. I can't imagine what would prompt me to pay $275 for a steak when I know that the high end Department of Agriculture figure for feeding a family of four for a week is $289.
The steak in question is Kobe beef, from Japan, which I learned about more than forty years ago on the first of the Pittsburgh Symphony’s many trips to the Land of the Rising Sun. We all thought it was a real howler and probably not true. Beef that was outrageously expensive because the cattle were treated to daily massages and fed beer? That was hard to believe even in Japan, where there was so much that was new and exotic to us. And who would have thought that this "diamond-crusted" beef would eventually find its way onto a Pittsburgh menu? Upon hearing that Kobe beef could be made available in Pittsburgh, even the local chef was skeptical asking, “Are you serious? These things really exist?”
Yes, they do, and and it turns out that more are being sold than had been expected -- three to six a week instead of the predicted six over the entire summer.
And it's a sure bet, now that the bar has been raised, other area establishments will feel compelled to come up with offerings that are even more “luxurious,” although they'll have to think hard to one-up a $275 steak.
We’ve been hearing about the citizens of Venezuela who are starving as their economy descends into chaos. They stand in line for up to eight hours a day hoping there might still be food or basic supplies remaining at the end of their wait. Skyrocketing inflation, corruption and smuggling have put adequate food out of reach of most citizens.
I wonder if those dining on $275 steak give a thought to the Venezuelans or the millions of others, worldwide, who go to bed hungry. If such a thought does cross their minds perhaps they believe that the hungry deserve their fate.
It's unlikely that anyone reading this is planning to spring for a $275 steak. My readers have more compassionate ways of distributing their money. So if you're feeling generous, how about sending a few dollars, by check or online at
Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank
1 N. Linden Street
Duquesne, PA 15110
or online at
You can even send a monthly contribution for whatever amount you choose, perhaps what some are spending on a Kobe steak.
Then go out and treat yourself to a nice, normal steak and drink a toast to the many blessings in your life.