Agh!!!!!! I just read this article the other day: Food’s Biggest Scam, The Great Kobe Beef Lie (Forbes)
RUINED MY LIFE!
No, not really. It was semi-shocking and also not. Shocking because it’s so ingrained and people do throw that word around like they are talking about colors. “Orange Carrot, Red Tomato, Kobe Beef” Only it’s NOT Kobe Beef. There’s no such thing (in America).
It’s illegal in America.
It also isn’t “Kobe” beef because the cow’s been massaged by some poor cow-masseuse. I mean, it’s not even about cow-massage, although that does help to fuel the American interest in the specially labeled meat. It’s Kobe because of strict Japanese regulations and cows being from Kobe, the capital of the Hyogo prefecture, in Japan. But there are no cow massages. This makes me sort of sad. Yes, I’m an idiot.
And according to the article, Kobe beef isn’t even the supreme quality beef that we regard it as in America. In America this is deemed the top of the line beef, best you could ever have. Delicacy. In Japan, there is actually beef that they consider higher quality beef than Kobe. Agh! Life-ruining information.
If you want a much better explanation from someone who knows much more about Kobe beef than I do, read the article. And when I say “read the article” I don’t mean “read the headlines and skim over the rest”. I mean actually read the article. I normally wouldn’t care except that the author, Mr. Larry Olmstead, wrote a detailed and, at times, almost repetitive article explaining key points about why Kobe beef is not available in America and even how Wagyu beef, as we know it, is not even a thing. (Wagyu actually just means “Japanese Cattle” – meaning this includes all qualities of Japanese cows)
This isn’t just about respecting the author’s writing – it’s about the fact that the poor guy wound up repeating himself so many times it got to be overwhelming. Not in a poorly-written sense but in a “really driving this point home” sense. He wrote a three part article and planned to stop it there except that he got so many emails he wound up having to write a fourth part just to clarify things and answer some reader’s questions.
What was he clarifying? It wasn’t about cow massages – it was reiterating the same exact points from the other three parts of the article!
So when you are paying for a good ol’ Kobe steak, you better be in Japan. And you better be paying a very pretty penny! I have a friend who moved to Japan and is planning to go try some real Kobe steak. She showed me this website. A Kobe steak at the shown restaurant is 2,980 yen ($38 USD) – and that’s in Japan.
An even more depressing part of this article was finding out things I should have known. Naively believing what has been shown to me for the past all-the-years-of-my-life without ever questioning. That is, I had no idea that “Champagne” does not simply mean “sparkling wine”. I thought Champagne was its own beverage, a totally different (but similar) product. A vast array of “wine” exists but I only seem to see “Champagne” or everything that isn’t Champagne.
I had no idea it was a place in France that was famous for their sparkling wine and the name implied it came from there.
Likewise, I didn’t know “Burgundy”, “Chianti”, “Sherry”, and many other popular wines aren’t just referring to a flavor or style but the name implies that it came from a specific place. You see store-brand bottles labeled “Burgundy” and “Sherry” at the local grocery store for $3 each! Parmigiano-Reggiano I also thought was merely a type of cheese. Even Cheddar does not merely mean a flavor of cheese. AGH! Life re-ruined.
Yes, I really am an idiot.
On a complete side note, this makes me sad. If you type in “Kobe Japan Steakhouse” – the entire first page of results is filled with different locations of teppanyaki/hibachi places (similar to Benihana). If you haven’t been to one of these places, you get some stir-fried vegetables, fried rice, and steak, shrimp or chicken. They will usually start you out with clear soup and a small salad with a ginger dressing. Think “onion volcano”.
This is not Japanese food.
I’m not saying they never eat this stuff in Japan, and the cooking style is apparently authentic Japanese, but all Japanese food does not fit into these two or three categories (teppanyaki-cooked, teriyaki, and sushi). I have heard numerous people where I’m at complain about not liking “Japanese food” and I always want to scream “YOU HAVEN’T TRIED IT THOUGH!”
That’s enough of my ranting. Go read the article and let your life be ruined too.