by Nicole Martinelli Beef is back in Europe after a nearly 10-year ban for mad cow disease. In Italy, butchers are trying to entice people to put the famed bistecca fiorentina, a monumental T-bone steak, on the table again.
Ban, schman. If you knew where to look — just three months after locals held a public funeral for the steak — you could sink your teeth into a fiorentina anyway.
Timing, though, couldn’t have been better.
Aviary influenza paranoia has already led to a 70% drop in chicken consumption here.
Italians have never been big meat eaters; lore has it that “bistecca” is the corruption of “beef steak” brought by the first wave of English expats in the 1800s to Tuscany.
You wouldn’t know it from the hungry, jostling crowd around the steak tent the other day. As part of back-to-meat month, the “Friends of the Art of Meat,” a butcher’s association that harks back to guild days, set up shop at the monthly outdoor antique market here in Milan.
For a €3 minimum donation to a children’s charity, you got a plate of beef strips and a glass of red wine.
There were so many people that rather than wait in line, normally reserved Milanese gnawed on free bones the grillers passed out.