Our Love of Ribeye Steaks
Entrecôte, Scotch Filet, Spencer steak, Beauty Steak or Market steak are all alternate names given to this wonderfully fatty, amazingly delicious cut of beef. Primarily derived from the longissimus dosri muscle and spanning from ribs 6-12, ribeye steaks are often the hands down favorite among long term carnivores. There is often a deep visceral satisfaction that occurs while in the midst of devouring one of these bovine masterpieces.
That feeling arguably goes back more than a million years, to one our direct predecessors Homo Erectus. By evolving a much larger and more energy expensive brain than earlier hominins, the diet of Homo Erectus, became very much dependent on high amounts of animal fat. The most coveted prize and the animal that provided the majority of their calories was the elephant. These giant beasts were aggressively targeted and represented the most efficient source of energy acquisition versus energy expenditure. Relative to smaller, more agile and leaner animals elephants were much easier to track and ultimately kill using the primitive weapons available at the time.
Eventually, elephants largely went extinct in much of the territory occupied by Homo Erectus and it is argued that the loss of easily obtained animal fat drove further evolution towards modern humans that had to become more sophisticated to acquire the same amounts of required fat from smaller, leaner animals.
Hunting practices of indigenous populations show a predilection for identifying and targeting the fattiest members of herds for eventual consumption. North American Plains Indians were noted to be especially adept at identifying the fat content of bison by the sheen of their fur and shape of their hump. It was these animals that they preferentially sought out and survived on until the United States Army wiped out the bison population in an effort to destroy their food source. Our North American herds were reduced from as much a 50 million animals down to just a few dozen by the early part of the twentieth century with the last remaining animals sequestered in Yellowstone National Park. Fortunately their numbers are recovering and we now have several hundred thousands animals.
A variety of cooking techniques are championed by various ribeye aficionados, ranging from grilling, sous-vide and reverse searing. Most will opt for a temperature in the medium rare range and some will consider a well done steak analogous to a felony crime. Regardless of temperature, seasoning or cooking method, just realize that the primal satisfaction that occurs when eating this wonderful fatty cut of meat is something we have shared with our very earliest ancestors!