There comes at least four times in a given day when I have to remember that not only are we no longer in the ’90s, we’re about two decades removed. The years of easy living are behind us. Everything has changed.
Radiohead doesn’t use acoustic guitars as much and all of their members have kids now. (I’ll be Pablo Honey‘s #1 champion til the end of time.)
Kids have to eat in cafeterias segregated between the nut-eaters and the have-
Hershey’s hasn’t made its “Cookie n’ Mint” candy bar in ages and I’ve been moping around every since.
In the ’90s, grocery stores used to be the epicenters of high technology. Before the era of collaborative workspaces, zip-up sweatshirt entrepreneurs and the feminist [girls who code] uprising, the epitome of commercial innovation could be found in between slabs of brisket and the dairy case.
It was a simpler time.
In my elementary school grocery trip days, the prospects of handpicking my own box of Wildberry Pop-Tarts® from the cereal aisle or getting a spring roll from the in-store Panda Express stand were just barely eclipsed by the recipe computer at the back of the store. (Lots of shops kept all the fun stuff in the back during the ’90s, be it supermarkets or Warner Brothers retail stores with those mind-blowing crawl-through spaceships…)
There, in my local Pavilions, I could scroll through the magic machine’s recipes for Swedish meatballs and other worldly delicacies. With one tap of a touch-screen button, a little recipe card would spit out below – for a small child that later would go on to read books about cheese and multiple biographies by Anthony Bourdain, the experience was more electrifying than watching twenties shoot out of an ATM.
Like my mint Hershey bar and Pablo Honey, I haven’t seen or heard much of these grocery gizmos in a long while. One particular recipe, however, never left me. I can’t eat Chinese food while I do my weekly shopping and I’ll never see Aaron Paul in a cereal commercial ever again, but I’ll always have Movie Star Steak Sandwiches.
Simpler Time Steak Sandwiches
Makes 2 (maybe 3) sandwiches
For the steak:
~1 lb. thinly sliced beef
Red wine vinegar
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 tsp garlic, minced
Salt + pepper
For the sandos:
3 long sandwich rolls, nice and crusty
Romaine lettuce, washed and torn into not-too-small pieces
2 roma tomatoes, sliced
[Creamy] Caesar dressing
Let’s marinate. (For real, clicking through to that song will make this process infinitely more enjoyable.)
Place the meat in a large pan or tray. Splash some worcestershire sauce and red wine vinegar over the beef; you don’t want them to be drowning, but nicely coated. Drizzle a tad of olive oil. Salt & pepper it on both sides. Sprinkle on the garlic and shallots so they’re evenly distributed. WASH YO DAMN HANDS. Wrap up the meat and let it sit in the refrigerator for a good hour at least (this can be done many hours ahead though.)
When you’re stomach is a-rumblin’ and you feel the hangry person inside of you climbing to the surface, get a skillet on the stove and heat 1 tbsp or so of olive oil in it. Once the pan is hot, add in your nicely marinated meat. If it’s thinly sliced, it should only need a couple minutes per side to cook through. Keep an eye on it.
Assembly is as straight forward as you’d imagine. Slather some Caesar – preferably Newman’s Own, the champagne of salad dressings – on the inside top half of your rolls (bottom half if you’re feeling like a Wild & Crazy Kid.) Layer some lettuce on the bottom half.
Delicately place the steak on top of the lettuce, and wedge in some tomato slices on top of that. Commence eating; taste the nineties.