Questing for the perfect cut of beef, award-winning food and travel writer Mark Schatzker embarks on an odyssey to four continents, travelling thousands of miles across eight countries and working his way through more than 100 lbs of steak prepared according to dozens of techniques. The result is an impassioned, funny and remarkably enlightening study of steak and its discontents as well as its many delights.Schatzker begins with a Proustian moment, a lovingly remembered morsel from his past. He goes on to explore beef myths and esoterica. Does marbling matter more than breed? Is a stressed animal less tasty? How does one read cow pies? Can umami be described accurately? Schatzker compares corn-fed to grass-fed ribeyes in Texas, ogles Angus bulls in Scotland and savours the famed Kobe beef of Japan. Lessons from each steak-conscious territory build upon those from the last, underscoring his major concern: do modern practices of commercial breeding and production sacrifice quality for quantity? Schatzker's inquisitive mind and comedic sense of timing keep his prose as lively as it is informative. As he aims for a unifying theory of steak, he even begins to raise his own cows for slaughter, leading him to a Zen-like revelation: the secret to great steak is, simply, great steak.