So I’m eating my strip-mall Korean restaurant sushi lunch today, alone, finally catching up on the New York Times Book Review’s annual Summer Reading issue from early June, when a relative’s name catches my eye.
Amarillo rancher Bill O’Brien is a first cousin, once removed — my Panhandle-native mother’s first cousin — and both a famous cattleman, like his family namesake, my great-grandfather Will O’Brien, and famously outspoken. He was a leader in the effort to get nuclear bomb maker (now dismantler) Pantex out of the Panhandle, and has long been in arguments with food writers who say that it’s not healthy to eat corn-fed beef.
But Bill, on his LIT and other ranches, practices a combo, as I understand it — his cattle are grass-fed and free-range roamers at first, and then are corn-fed in feed lots.
But here’s the quote, in a review by James Oliver Cury of “Steak: One Man’s Search for the World’s Tastiest Piece of Beef” by Mark Schatsker: “After Schatzker meets Bill O’Brien, who keeps 50,000 cows in Texas and champions the use of corn-based feed, he spends the rest of ‘Steak’ railing against such a diet.”
Well, with a caveat, apparently: “Bad grass,” Schatzker writes, “equals bad steaks.”
I’ve dropped a note to Bill, who, if he has an iPhone on horseback while he’s gettin’ the dogies along, will give his side …