Decades to Decadence

Waiting in line for the bank teller, as I did last Monday, is decidedly old-school. It’s a face-to-face experience so much more inefficient than the drive-thru lane or smartphone options. But sometimes we still go brick-and-mortar, don’t we?  Stopping into the bank is either convenient in the moment or perhaps the transaction demands a real, live person. And so we wait.  But at least cashing a check doesn’t take thirty years.  It just seems that long sometimes.

Every now and then you see a headline and say, “Wait a minute… WHAT?”  And then, even with no interest whatsoever you still read the article.  Such was the case this week with a story about Kobe beef.  I’ve never eaten Kobe beef.  I’m too cheap to even give it a try.  I’ll concede the price is justified by the high quality, high demand, and low supply.  But what if you had to wait until Thanksgiving of 2052 to be able to enjoy it?

Here’s the gist of the story.  A small, family-run butcher shop in Japan makes a beef croquette so popular it’ll take you thirty years to get one.  Asahiya, about to celebrate a century in the meat business, began producing its croquettes shortly after World War II.  The deep-fried meat-and-potato dumplings were designed as a tease; a mere taste to draw customers to its larger, more expensive products.  The strategy didn’t pan out so well but the croquettes themselves became an Internet sensation, and the inevitable hype that followed created a line of customers thirty years long.

[Note: If a Kobe beef croquette sounds “decadent” you’re probably right, but you’re using the wrong word to describe it.  Decadent actually means “excessively self-indulgent”.  Instead of the food itself perhaps you’re talking about a customer willing to wait thirty years.]

I hear what you’re saying.  I wouldn’t pay big bucks for something like this Dave, let alone wait thirty years for it.  But go figure; an Asahiya beef croquette costs only $3.40 USD.  You could buy a box of ten for less than you probably paid for your Thanksgiving turkey.  You just need a very comfortable chair as well.  Asahiya makes only two hundred croquettes a day (or twenty customers’ worth) so it’s no wonder you have to wait so long.

Technology being what it is today, we’re not patient waiters anymore.  Amazon and others are getting close to same-day delivery on the items we consume regularly.  Many amusement parks and tourist attractions have adopted Disney’s approach, where you can pay more to “jump the line”.  Want tickets to the next Taylor Swift concert?  Pay a “line-stander” to buy them for you.  Want season tickets to the Green Bay Packers?  Okay, sorry, there’s no way around that one.  The seats at sold-out Lambeau Field simply pass down the line from generation to generation.  But you can still join the list for this impossible get, just to say you’re on it.

This week’s visit to the bank felt like an impossible get.  I made it to within one customer of the front of the line before things came to a grinding halt.  Only two tellers were open out of the four.  One was preoccupied by a woman who wanted cash and a money order, with terms so specific you knew she was going to be awhile.  The other was completely preoccupied by an older gent, carrying on a personal conversation while constantly losing track of whatever he was asking for in the first place.  Meanwhile, the back window drive-thru teller was cranking out transaction after transaction after transaction.  Shoulda, coulda… I know, I know.

I thought the beef croquette story was timely, not because I went to the bank but because next Thursday is Thanksgiving, when Americans wait all day long.  We wake up early, get the oven going, prep the bird, and spend a long time putting the rest of the meal together.  We eat earlier than most dinners (does that make it “supper”?) but it’s still a waiting game.  Hours and hours of anticipation before the food is finally brought to the table.

If there’s any good news about Asahiya’s Kobe products, it’s that they have options besides the “Extreme” beef croquettes.  There’s a more accessible variety called the “Premiere”.  You only have to wait four years for those.  When you consider how fast we’re going through U.S. Presidents lately, four years doesn’t seem like a long time at all.

Some content sourced from the CNN Travel article, “These Japanese beef croquettes are so popular there’s a 30-year waiting list”.

Author: Dave

Three hundred posts would suggest I have something to say… This blog was born from a desire to elevate the English language, highlighting eloquent words from days gone by. The stories I share are snippets of life itself, and each comes with a bonus: a dusted-off word I hope you’ll go on to use more often. Read “Deutschland-ish Improvements” to learn about my backyard European wish list. Try “Slush Fun” for the throwback years of the 7-Eleven convenience store. Or drink in "Iced Coffee" to discover the plight of the rural French cafe. On the lighter side, read "Late Night Racquet Sports" for my adventures with our latest moth invasion. As Walt Whitman said, “That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.” Here then, my verse. Welcome to "Life In A Word".

19 thoughts on “Decades to Decadence”

  1. Hi Dave,
    Very enjoyable post! I now want a beef croquette! Since I am an Aries, impatient by nature, there is no way I would wait that long for any kind of food. Well, perhaps for the most amazing chocolate cake.
    I am not a fan of drive-thru anything. I park and go inside – call me old-fashioned.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Chocolate cake! I’m with you on that, Ana. I’d eat a lot of other chocolate cakes in the meantime but if it was truly “most amazing”, I’d join the waitlist!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hey, Dave. I eat beef only occasionally. Maybe six times a year. One of my favorite dishes is beef stew. Haven’t had it in a long while. I’m not much of a cook, but my wife does a real good job. I’m going to ask her to make beef stew this winter. Kobe beef will not be needed to have it taste good.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. My wife made her family-recipe pepper steak this week, which is practically a stew. Delicious in the colder months, and uses a barbecued beef filet cut into small pieces. No Kobe necessary.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve never heard of a beef croquette, but have had chicken and ham ones. I didn’t know the true meaning of decadent and have been using the word incorrectly. I don’t think I’ve had Kobe beef, but now I’m wondering what I’m missing.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Well thank you for introducing us and our taste buds to Kobe beef Dave. I have had salmon croquettes, something we always had for Lent as we observed meatless Fridays, but I’ve not tasted other types of croquettes. I don’t eat red meat, having given it up for Lent many years ago and just stayed off it for good. I work from home and have been just depositing my monthly paycheck by snail mail since they stopped having a night deposit. I don’t have a smartphone, so I can’t deposit that way. I try to go to the bank as few times as possible.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I think I am too old to order these, unless I can add a second address for a beneficiary. If I am still alive when they arrive, I think I would like to enjoy my croquettes while playing croquet with a coquette.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Let’s hope both of us have another thirty, J.P. As for the rest of what you said, I’m glad my native language is English. Can you imagine trying to pronounce that sentence in language class?

      Liked by 1 person

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