Jan was fixing supper when she asked me what "Select" meant on the steaks she had bought. I didn't even know that was a category, so I googled around and found this jewel in the High Plains Journal:
Recently, while in one of the Front Range cities, a couple of friends and I decided to enjoy one of the "fine dining" experiences that city folk are always bragging about. After a lengthy stay in purgatory waiting for a table to become available; we were finally escorted through the steakhouse, seated, and offered a menu. An exhaustive search of the eight-page steakhouse menu revealed a section with seven steak items (if you include the pot roast, the kabob, and the hamburger steak). As if it had been said at another table, I remotely caught the conversation between one of my dining companions and the waitress. My friend was debating between the New York Strip and the Filet Mignon, so she asked our waitress which she preferred. Normally, I would have quickly noted the irony when the steakhouse waitress announced that she was a vegetarian and began to expound upon her beliefs in her chosen lifestyle. However, I was already absorbed in perplexity by a statement that I had just read above the steak section of the menu.Suffice to say that with food inflation where it is and meat prices needing to rise to recover feed costs, "Select" may become the pinnacle of our protein intake.
I had seen similar statements before in restaurants and grocery stores and it had always annoyed me. Yet, on this particular evening it really began to scratch at the surface of my skin. Across the top of the page was the marketing line, "Our steaks are cut in house from USDA Choice Select Beef." Considering my newly adjusted mood, when it was my turn to order I asked for the Ribeye and requested that I get one from the choice side of their marketing campaign, as opposed to the select side. My request solicited an obligatory lecture from our vegetarian hostess about how all USDA Choice Select Beef was of one standard and that each piece of beef would be the same as any other in their cooler; as this was the beauty of the USDA's "mandatory meat certification labeling system." I politely stated that I disagreed and our waitress was off; apparently in fear of not receiving a tip. This assumption is based on the fact that the manager magically appeared to reiterate the beef grading lesson which I had just received. [More - highly recommended]