Let me see if I can put the steer back together.
Spread out on my kitchen counter are 33 pounds of prime aged beef wrapped in brown paper. The biggest package holds eight huge rib steaks, each tapering into a jutting prow of bone. The steaks weigh in at just over 13 pounds. Then, in descending order of mass: a seven-pound standing rib roast, a four-pound pile of meaty bones for stock, thick and enticing short ribs to the tune of three pounds, a slightly smaller quantity of stew meat in one-inch cubes, and, finally, 30 ounces or so of hamburger. Flashing forward to later this evening, six friends will show up for dinner, and when they stagger to their feet a few hours later, the steaks will be gone. The rest of my bounty I will somehow contrive to cook over the next two weeks. But right now I'm trying to run the film in reverse, backing up to three o'clock this afternoon, when these heaps of flesh and bone made up a single colossal hunk of beef.
My original plan was to cut all this meat myself. One day I had realized with creeping horror that I was breathtakingly ignorant about meat for a guy who eats some part of an animal at nearly every meal. I didn't know what a steak was, really, or the difference between short ribs and spareribs, or why I had such trouble slicing a ham.