Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Color Red - Steak Tartare, or Monet's "Still Life: Quarter of Beef"

Claude Monet, "Still Life: Quarter of Beef"
c.1864, oil on canvas, 24 x 33 cm, Musee d'Orsay, Paris

From COLOURlovers.com - The Color Red - Steak Tartare

As a leading artist within the Impressionist movement, Claude Monet’s paintings are associated with dreamy landscapes and pastel colours. Before his redundant paintings of haystacks, churches and waterlilies, his work was closer in appearance to his contemporary, Gustav Courbet, whose Realist manner was concerned with the common ‘plebeian’ life.

The cut of beef depicted in Monet’s Still Life: Quarter of Beef is an inexpensive and tough piece, typically consumed by the lower class. The garlic would be used to flavour the meal – perhaps in a stew – and the earthenware jug confirms the working-class nature of the tableau. To mimic the paradoxical nature of the colour red, the painting of a plebeian meal is paired with a quintessentially posh recipe for steak tartare.

The dish was served in the early 20th century under the name of steak à l’Americane without the egg yolk and with a side of tartare sauce. Over time, the fare evolved to become an assemblage of raw, minced (not ground) beef, season and topped with a raw egg yolk. Typically the beef is marinated in citrus juice, a Mexican technique that begins to cook the meat and kill off any bacteria.

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