Even poorer neighborhoods (assuming that's the relevant environment), now and, to my knowledge, then, would have both: (i) some number of people who cook steak at home on any given night; and (ii) restaurants, or at least pubs, where steak would be cooked for some percentage of the customers. The question of whether it suggests an incongruous affluance seems worth pursuing, however (though I personally doubt it will survive scrutiny): if socio-economic research suggets there is an incongruity there, more likely than not Eliot intended it, I would think, since he lived and rambled in those times and would not likely import an incongruity without reason.
In a message dated 2/8/2004 11:25:03 PM Eastern Standard Time, Peter Montgomery <[log in to unmask]> writes:
>You're welcome to accept or not accept whatever you want
>The simple matter of fact is that the student found the
>poem full of slum type imagery (whether you happen to
>like it or not), but found the image of steak inconsistent
>with the rest of the atmospherics. My best guess/suggestion
>was that steak might have meant something different at the
>time. It also allowed me to point out that poems do have
>a shelf life in terms of what their imagery &c might mean.