Tuesday, July 6, 2010

What Makes A Man. (One Woman's Opinion.)

Looks like we made it.

Last year, Charlotte NC came home a bridesmaid, but just last week, our hometown finally snagged the coveted, and surely comical, title, “America’s Manliest City.”  (Am I the only one who sees the irony of "The Queen City" being crowned?)

No kidding.  The criteria, as you might imagine, were testosterone intense, including:

•  Number of professional sports teams
•  Number of steakhouses
•  Number of construction workers and pickup trucks
•  Number of home improvement stores and popularity of power tools
•  Frequency of monster truck rallies.

Again, no kidding.  Plainly, someone overlooked, as I noted in Feminine Wiles last year, that we’ve also got that bastion of metrosexuality – IKEA – as well as a Crate and Barrel, and three Trader Joe’s.

If anyone had asked – and believe me, they didn’t – my own criteria would’ve been somewhat different.  In fairness, though, my own criteria at age 47 is likely far different than what I would’ve listed at age 17 – or even 27.

Nowadays, I’d say, among other things, that a “real man” can:

•  Say “I’m sorry.”  And just to be clear, that’s “I’m sorry” without the preamble, “I don’t know exactly what you’re mad about, but …” or "I don't know what I did, but ..."  Indeed, no manly apology includes the word "but."

•  Make a three-year-old smile.  From across a room.  Before even meeting the three-year-old.  Without any words.  Or candy.  A trick eyebrow, wink or animal noise often does the trick.

•  Sing along – enthusiastically -- with The BeeGeesAnd Duran Duran.

•  "Teach," as well as "do."  It's almost always easier to do something yourself, than to teach someone else to do it. Giving instruction -- patiently, calmly, kindly and repeatedly -- is a gift.  Teaching someone to drive a boat comes to mind.

•  Let someone else drive.  Again, driving a boat comes to mind.

•  Wipe away tears without embarrassment.  Including those of children and grown women.  And his own.

•  Buy cat litter.  And tampons.  Are details necessary?

•  Let someone else be right.  Even if they are wrong.

The list goes on, of course, but you get the gist.  And please, don’t think I’m encouraging 15-year-old Son to buy feminine hygiene products.  Yet.  On the other hand, we’re not exactly monster truck rally aficionados, either.

However, we do both enjoy a good steak, including this terrific one using a cut I'd never tried before a friend sent me the recipe.  Thank you, Callie!  (Ooh!  Add that one to the list, too.  A real man is totally fine giving someone else the credit.  And always has the good manners to say, "thanks.")

Skillet Sirloin Burgundy

2 USDA Choice (or Prime) Sirloin Steaks or Filets (I chose filets)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt
fresh ground pepper
1 cup dry red wine
1/2 cup beef stock (low sodium)
1 shallot finely chopped
1 clove garlic finely minced
1 tbsp fresh parsley finely cut
1 tbsp fresh rosemary finely cut
Optional -- 8 ounces sliced mushrooms, sauteed in 2 tablespoons of butter

Heat skillet to medium-high heat. Rub steaks with EVOO and season with salt and pepper. Add steaks to hot skillet and cook 3-4 minutes on each side for medium rare doneness. Transfer steaks from skillet to plate and loosely top with foil to keep warm. Add the chopped shallot and garlic to the pan and cook until tender (about 2 min). Add the rosemary and cook for another minute. Add the wine and beef stock and turn heat to high. Bring liquid to a boil scraping the bottom of the skillet to remove browned bits. Once the liquid is reduced to desired thickness, add the parsley and, if using, sauteed mushrooms. Slice steak into 1/4 inch strips (fajita style) and serve with Burgundy sauce drizzled on top.  Pound yourself on the chest.  Very manly, right?

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