…when a ‘well done’ steak may be, well, not so ‘well done’…

…ever since my first taste of real steak, when I was around twenty years old (in Docklands Govan in Glasgow, where I grew up, steak was an unaffordable luxury), I have relished the texture of a steak cooked medium-well… usually accompanied back then by spud-sack loads of chips (I never knew they were called ‘French Fries’ until I left Scotland to work as a Trainee Financial Master of the Universe in London’s Lombard Street), and attended also by a solid helping of green peas, and the mandatory lashings of HP Brown Sauce

…fast forward when the callow Govan youth had metamorphosed into a globe-trotting banking executive, and I had the distinct pleasure of sitting in some of the best restaurants in the WURLD (all on the corporate expense ticket, of course)… included in that was a memorable business trip to the prestigious Baur au Lac Hotel in Zurich, Switzerland...

…accompanying me on the trip was an American colleague, whose taste in food ran all the way from steaks to… erm, steaks… the waiter in the restaurant resembled a cross between a relative of the Addams family and a scarecrow… his jacket sleeves were a third of the way up his arms, and his trouser legs ended about four inches above the top of his socks… thick, streaky brownish-blond hair swept back from his brow in a front to back comb-over… a once seen, never forgotten image…

…my friend ordered a steak- ‘well done’... in due course when it arrived, it was sum’where twixt rare and medium… my man called over the garçon and bid him return to the kitchen to get the steak ‘done right – well done’… it came back a  little while later, but still nowhere near the conventional ‘well done’ one might expect elsewhere… my companion, in exasperation, said to the waiter, “I asked for ‘well done’ – this isn’t ‘well done’ – what is THAT?”.. the man didn’t blink an eyelid and condescendingly uttered the immortal line, with a sneer worthy of the best put-downers in history, “Sir, THAT’S how we do ‘well done’ at the Bar au Lac!” and promptly sauntered off, stage left… my friend spluttered all the way through the balance of his meal, while I tried to hide my smiles… see yeez later… LUV YEEZ!

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15 Comments

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15 responses to “…when a ‘well done’ steak may be, well, not so ‘well done’…

  1. Yes… I had one of my writing students tell her own account of a much-loved aunt’s 80th birthday, when the old lady wanted a well-done steak and the chef refused to do it. My student, who had arranged the birthday outing, asked to see him at the end of the meal, after the rest of the party had left, and told him in no uncertain terms just how upset her beloved aunt was. He was stammering his apologies by the time she’d finished – and quite right too.

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    • …chefs are the law unto themselves ! 🙂

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      • You’ve got that right, about Chefs: my son is a trained and classically educated Chef. You don’t want to get on the wrong side of somebody who plays with knives for a living!

        When I was very young, I was of the “hit it over the head, wipe its nose, and bring it in” ilk, but as I got older, my tastes changed to medium-rare. Not sure why that happened, but bright pink and warm inside is now more appealing to me than red and cool.

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  2. Texans I’ve met mostly insist on well done: “don’t bring it to the table, bucking”. Dear old mater, who could scortch water, offered mystery meat: never knew if it was steak, liver or whale meat when it could be obtained.

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  3. Or you can say “Don’t want it to mooo at me on the table”
    We used to say that at the dinner table in TX

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  4. The French had trouble getting their heads around McDonald’s burgers being ‘overcooked’ when they first opened in France. Burgers (or Steak haché, as they’re called in France) are usually served pink and juicy in most restaurants around the country.

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  5. As a devoted carnivore I do like my steak – usually rib-eye medium.
    The best steak I have ever eaten was surprisingly in Bahrain at the Four-Seasons restaurant CUT by Wolfgang Puck.
    It was pricey and I still have to get my wife back from bank who loaned me the money, but it was worth it.

    On ‘rareness’ or otherwise of steaks. I had a French colleague who enjoyed his steak ‘bleu’. When asked in an American hostelry how rare that was he answered ‘raw enough to be revived by a good vet’.

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  6. May we all be spared the attentions of arrogant waiters. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I’ve always read the French prefer steaks done rare or almost rare. Of course, well-done can also go too far. It still sounds strange to me to hear French fries called chips here in India due to the English influence. 🙂 — Suzanne

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