Not because I was hungry. Because I'd discovered some0ne who had never heard of it, while at lunch on Monday.
We took a new, 30-something colleague for a birthday lunch at one of those small-town restaurants that you can depend on for hot coffee, good food and and a smile. The Copper Kettle, in downtown Huntington, not far from Nick's-of-the-pork-tenderloin-fame, which Dan Quayle made famous during his vice presidency.
Anyway, John grew up in New England, worked in Rome for a few years, then moved to California for another few. Plus, since he worked as a journalist, he's well-traveled in between all those places.
Beef Manhattan was one of the specials for the day; we commented on it as we perused the menu, and that's when John asked, "What's Beef Manhattan?"
I picked up my jaw, and tried to explain. I do love a good Beef Manhattan, with thin-sliced, tender beef, fluffy mashed potatoes, and just enough gravy to satisfy, though I don't indulge in it very often anymore.
I guess I figured since the recipe is rather ubiquitous in diners and restaurants, and had "Manhattan" in its name, it had originated in NYC, and thus had a aura of East Coast sophistication, rather than the reek of Midwestern comfort food. Surely, I thought, Beef Manhattan is not as peculiar to the Midwest as, say, those flying-saucer-sized pork tenderloins are to Indiana?
Well, I tried to research the culinary history of Beef Manhattan, but didn't find much more than this:
"Beef Manhattan is a dish consisting of roast beef and gravy. It is often served with mash potatoes either on top or on the side. A variation on this dish is Turkey Manhattan, which substitutes turkey for the roast beef," on wikipedia.com.
I also found a recipe here»
In my stunned shock, I didn't really quiz John as to how he'd escaped Beef Manhattan--if he avoided those diners and restaurants that tend to serve it, or if he's a health-food devotee, or if it just doesn't exist in New England (even the small towns?), California (possible, but again, even in the small towns?), and Rome (given: probably not).
The long and short if it was, now I'm hungry for Beef Manhattan, and might have to return to the Copper Kettle for a serving next week, fat and calorie content be damned.
Also, I'm impressed, once again, that the country is not the homogeneous melting pot that some writers and reporters would have us believe; that we are not all McDonald-ized -- each region, each state, each little town still has that stamp that says: Yep, we're weird in our own way.
And if you need further proof, hop on by Nick's sometime, and pony up for the tenderloin. Take your Lipitor first, those things are breaded AND fried.
How about you? Ever ordered up a Beef Manhattan? (Or a pork tenderloin?)