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Who invented the steak? The Native Americans?

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 

Hello,

 

recently I read again Stephen Clarke's amusing book "1000 Years of Annoying the French".

 

As he states the Britons introduced beefsteaks to the French. I always wondered why the French call them "bifteck(s)"...

 

At cooking school our class teacher told us once the steak had been invented by American Indians. He explained that tribes living on bisons (animals which I only know from Nordhorn's zoo) had been very meticulous about making use of each part of this aninmal.

 

According to him the idea of roasting a steak was introduced to European cooks by homecoming English seafarers. Until then Europeans loved to roast either whole animals or at least pieces which were just as big as possible... and when the meat was eligible, everybody just wanted to get a proper, juicy chunk...

 

Is that story true or is it just another proof for the traditional popularity of Native Americans in Germany?

I am not a number! I am a Nordhorner.
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I am not a number! I am a Nordhorner.
http://www.amazon.com/Joachim-Banneke/e/B010HOVU84

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post #2 of 14
Steak, the word, is from Norman via old Norse. So probably not. And why would natives cut it up first instead of cooking a big piece? But Europeans not? Seems silly.
post #3 of 14
Thread Starter 

Language is subject to constant change.

 

For example the word "hardware" is nowadays used for computer hardware. 

 

Indeed "hardware" is an old word. Still that doesn't mean computer hardware could already exist as long as the word "hardware" does.

 

Native Americans did really dismantle bisons more carefully than white hunters and they would put each and every part to good use.

 

By the way, the early Germans were exactly like Native Americans (until the Romans came) and I wouldn't underestimate them.

You know, nowadays German newspapers write a lot about the Euro crisis... I never forget who anticipated this crisis more than a decade ago. It was a wise Navaho lady at a Blackfire concert in Münster. She said the introduction of the Euro would cause hunger and riots in Europe. When she told me I laughed. Now I see photographs from Greece every day and I see she was right.

I am not a number! I am a Nordhorner.
http://www.amazon.com/Joachim-Banneke/e/B010HOVU84

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I am not a number! I am a Nordhorner.
http://www.amazon.com/Joachim-Banneke/e/B010HOVU84

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post #4 of 14

Is your question, who started to use the word steak. Or who was the first to cook meat. Cooking meat goes back way further. Most very old food critiics were from the time of Hominids.:D They say that when we humans started to develope into something like we are now. Nice jaws and smaller teeth, dental implants and plastic surgery,etc.The Homo Erectus was probably cooking it's food. They had steaks on their menus, thus getting more protein out of the meat because they could consume more of it. The old restaurants before that only served raw meat and it took hours to gnaw on it. Waiters quit because they could only do one turn a night. So I guess cooking meat started in Africa and came to Europe with the HomoE's and the neanderthals.

BTW To all those Vegetarians and Paleos, meat, yes meat was one of the first foods.;)

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post #5 of 14

Etymology[edit]

The word steak originates from the mid-15th century Scandinavian word steik, or stickna' in the Middle English dialect, along with the Old Norse word steikja.[5] The Oxford English Dictionary's first reference is to "a thick slice of meat cut for roasting or grilling or frying, sometimes used in a pie or pudding; especially a piece cut from the hind-quarters of the animal." Subsequent parts of the entry, however, refer to "steak fish", which referred to "cod of a size suitable for cutting into steaks", and also "steak-raid", which was a custom among Scottish Highlanders of giving some cattle being driven through a gentleman's land to the owner.[6] An early written usage of the word "stekys" comes from a 15th-century cookbook, and makes reference to both beef or venison steaks.[7]

 

I recall the English being fond of "joints" of meat - large cuts tied and slow cooked.  Range beef cattle and the cowboys and gauchos who tended them probably cut steaks as they operated on the move, had no method of preserving meat other than jerk, or smoke and no real means to slow cook a joint of beef.  

Don't mind me - I'm just thinking out loud over coffee.

post #6 of 14

@Mike9

 

I always enjoy your Shtick!:D

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post #7 of 14

:thumb:  :beer:  :crazy:

post #8 of 14
Thread Starter 

Let me rephrase:

 

Who invented the beefsteak?

 

The caption mentioned only steak because the cooks I know always mean beefsteak when they just say "steak" (instead of salmon steak or pork steak or whatever) ...

 

The word "beef" (and this is what my question is about) is of French origin. It was added to the English language after William the Conqueror had taken over England. As we all know he considered himself a "Norman" but still he spoke not "Old Norse" but French. (Just like my old buddy Franck.)

 

So "beefsteak" is clearly not "Old Norse". By the way, "Old Norse" was the Germanic language. It is the ancestor and source of all Germanic languages including... German. Small wonder "steak" in its original meaning has survived in my native language. Being Germans we added of course an "umlaut": Stück. A "Stück" is merely just a piece (of something). As Panini implied (Thank you for that) a Stück could as well be a piece of one of you guys.

I am not a number! I am a Nordhorner.
http://www.amazon.com/Joachim-Banneke/e/B010HOVU84

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I am not a number! I am a Nordhorner.
http://www.amazon.com/Joachim-Banneke/e/B010HOVU84

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post #9 of 14

It wasn't old norse? That fat bastard spoke Norse, no? Wasn't Norse a completely different dialect with French roots?.  Since the Norse couldn't speak or understand the French, I think that would classify as the language of the Norse. No? Didn't the language spoken by the Norse went to english. I think. I don't think it went back to France and then went to english.

I'm not sure of any of this, Joe you probably have forgotten more on the subject then I know. 

  I still think beefsteak came from the Neanderthals. When I'm in Philly and stand in line for one, the guy making it is always a Neanderthal.

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post #10 of 14
The idea that no one cut a piece of meat off a larger cut & cooked it until after 1600 seems preposterous. Associating english seafarers with bison-eating natives pushes it back another hundred and fifty years, until the english started pushing past the Appalachians. So thevtimeline & association doesn't make sense.
We know europeans ate large pieces of meat, because it's economical to cook for a bunch of people at the same time. But how do you prove they didn't eat steaks?
post #11 of 14
Thread Starter 

We wouldn't have potatoes or tobacco if it wasn't for seafarers who imported these goods from the Americas. Also the first settlers from England only survived because American Indians (the very ones whose hairstyle I recently made mine too) introduced them to corn... I can very well imagine they knew which part of the muscles of a bison was especially tasty. (By the way, I always liked "Uncle Ray" in the TV series "Walker, Texas Ranger" and I also liked Steven Seaguls "The Patriot".)

I am not a number! I am a Nordhorner.
http://www.amazon.com/Joachim-Banneke/e/B010HOVU84

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I am not a number! I am a Nordhorner.
http://www.amazon.com/Joachim-Banneke/e/B010HOVU84

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post #12 of 14

Let me add a curve ball to this discussion. From an USA perspective, Native Americans (Indians or Aboriginals... I don't know which terms is politically correct) spoke their mother tongue and English but in Nouvelle France (i.e now Québec), Natives learned French.  Nouvelle France is older than the former colonies of what is now the United States of America. 

 

Now this is the interesting part:

Boeuf is French for Beef (a male cow). Now Beef comes the French word boeuf. In French, naming the food after the animal is common, in English the animal and food often have different words.

Buffle is a buffalo

Bison is the same in english

 

Bifteck means beefsteak and is considered an English pronunciation of a food from England as in Beefeaters (the well fed beef eating Royal guard).  There are numerous words in French Québec that are English words pronounced in French creating a new French word.   (as there is the same in English and every language)

 

So does steak originally refer to a bison, buffalo or beef is hard to say.

Luc H.

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post #13 of 14

My guess is people were eating it long before there was a word for it.

 

mjb.

Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
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post #14 of 14
Thread Starter 

Hello Luc, that's very interesting. Thank you.

 

By the way, one of the reasons why I once decided to become a professional cook was the wish to emigrate to Canada (or otherwise Australia). I had been told German cooks had good chances to find work there.

 

It didn't work out that way but I had Canadian teachers later on when I worked in an International call centre for an English helpline. So I know already that one can learn a lot from Canadians.

 

Well, actually I just wondered who established the idea to cut out a certain piece of meat in order to fry it separately.

 

It is all about a certain piece of meat.

 

Maybe the Sioux called it Charlie and the Cheyenne called it Merkel or whatever.

 

However, linguistics are interesting too and I learned a lot already.

I am not a number! I am a Nordhorner.
http://www.amazon.com/Joachim-Banneke/e/B010HOVU84

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I am not a number! I am a Nordhorner.
http://www.amazon.com/Joachim-Banneke/e/B010HOVU84

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