Of all the steak houses in all the towns in all the world, she walked into mine.
I recently met up with my collaborator, the singer Gloria Gaynor, as we discussed our book We Will Survive (Grand Harbor Press). We met at the Strip House on 12th Street in the Village near my apartment.
"What kind of place are you taking me to, Sue?" she asked with a degree of concern over its risqué name.
"Gloria," I replied. "I wouldn't take you to Scores. It's Strip -- as in steak."
I have no clue why I like steak joints, as I'm a vegetarian -- who once grew up with a slaughterhouse in my backyard -- but I do know I love their clubby feel and mouth-watering creamed spinach. They also feel so ol'-time mafiosa.
But if I like steak houses for their atmosphere, Gloria Gaynor could survive on eating steak alone. At her recent birthday soiree, she even asked for steak house certificates, along with being registered at Bed, Bath & Beyond.
Gaynor started schooling me on her steak fetish.
"When I first started frequenting steak houses, I always got filet mignon," she said. "I had known since I was a child that it was the most tender and tasteful steak. In recent years, I discovered I prefer rib eyes. It took a while for me to make that discovery, as I did not like the idea of eyes in one's ribs. What was the cow trying to see from the vantage point of his ribs, anyway? I didn't get it. Soon I found the nerve to ask, and was informed that it is a center cut steak with no bone, hence the name. However, in some places it has a bone. At any rate, now, I always get the rib eye steak."
Gaynor is a steak house world traveler, it seems, eating steak from her home state of New Jersey to California, Canada to Florida, and other places like Morton's in Las Vegas and McMahons' Steak House in Tucson, Arizona, and everywhere in between.
"I've even eaten steak in a few foreign cities, such as Acapulco, Mexico City, Paris, Moscow, Madrid, Vienna, London, England, Austria, Frankfurt, Buenos Aires, and of course, Sao Paolo," she said.
Gaynor still travels the United States and abroad, belting out her two most iconic songs, including "I Will Survive," which has sold over 14 million copies and earned her a Grammy award. Gaynor, in her new book, has collected some 40 stories of survival, including two by her -- one about her molestations at a young age and her rape, and the other detailing her sister's murder. Other writers include an Auschwitz survivor, an Oklahoma City bombing rescuer, and young and limited autistic boy on his adventures ordering his mother roses for Mother's Day.
But back to the beef, which she has trouble with in one country.
"The British might be able to cook a good Sunday roast, but they need to leave steak alone," Gaynor said. "For one thing, they cook everything to death, never mind the thing is already dead. The French, on the other hand, want to serve beef with the cow still mooing. I've heard that Argentina has the best steak in the world, but I have never tasted steak in Argentina that was better then the steaks I've had at our own American steak houses."
While she can name drop famous steak houses across the world and also loves even Outback (especially for their blooming onion and accompanying chicken wings), she adds, "I'd stopped calling it a steak house, really. It's like calling McDonald's a fine restaurant. You really are using the term loosely."
But of all the steak houses in the world, Gaynor does have a favorite.
"I like Ruth's Chris the best," she said. "Although it's a chain restaurant and not particularly exclusive, it is consistently good. The steaks are always juicy, tender, and tasty. I am never disappointed. The appetizers, sides and other entrees are unique and well-chosen and consistently fresh and delicious. The desserts are decadent and mouth-watering. The service is excellent as well."
Singer turned steak reviewer? Well, with the money she has made, it certainly hasn't added up to hamburger! Plus, meatloaf was already taken.