When I met my wife- the original- she could cook a steak in a frying pan without adding butter or cooking oil. She simply lit the burner and watched the blue flames heat the skillet until the steak was nicely browned on both sides….the consistency of a shoe insert.
In my own endearing way, I expressed great pleasure with her inedible creations by shoving pieces under the table for her cat, while wiping my mouth with a paper napkin. It took me months before even revealing that I actually knew the secret to making an edible steak. Of course, this would come at a price- the price was that she would have to relinquish the job of chef if I was to share this wonderful revelation.
I do not recall her making me any more steaks…ever…
When she got pregnant with our first, she had a craving for steak. This is not necessarily a good thing for a struggling new husband, who worked like a dog for The Man….I mean, who labored for hours doing menial work that older men would not do. But, life was a bit more fair in those days when it came to getting a meal at a restaurant, especially one with a buffet.
One buffet was all the rage- all you can eat steak, with salad bar, for $4.99 a piece. These were not ordinary steaks, these were juicy ribeyes, sirloins, New York Strips, all cooked to perfection and brought to your table. The servers would explain in detail what each preparation method would entail…by showing us sample glossy photos of steaks with different strips of red, or no red at all, which must be adhered to, in order to get one’s steak.
The now familiar scale of rare, medium rare, medium, and so on was shown the customer, as if the customer were going to take a written test on the material after the meal. One could not, at that time, order a “lightly rare,” or “extremely well-done” steak. You could not “have it your way.” You could not order “a 4 inch wide red streak” in your steak or any other deviations from the photo list.
Now, some of those restaurants are closed…gone forever…and their salad bar heavens have gone the way of the Cabbage Patch Doll or the one-stringed ukulele from Odd Lots. Now, we have choices, so many choices. So many choices that one can create choices and claim they have always been choices. Like the choice to mate with furniture…or live life as a life-size Raggedy Ann Doll. So, it should not come as a surprise that food choice has entered a new frontier, where “rare” and “medium” are rarely mentioned, and new ideas of steak-readiness have invented a whole new series of phrases.
For, just like the newly discovered symptoms that appear from taking a newly advertised drug on TV, the newly prepared steak comes in a wide range of philosophically friendly cooking choices, from “lightly killed,” to “murdered in wine sauce.”
The pharmaceutical world, which rules the life of average American adults, has slipped into the food preparatory culture and brought us more than nine steak grades, from “Raw” to “Fatal.” The raw steak is organically pure with only Himalayan Pink Salt rubbed into the surface structure of the meat, while the “Fatal” is blackened on all sides, including the ends, to seal in the “taste of black death.” “Fatal” can be cooked with “Rare and Fatal Bleeding,” which is an episode that may or may not occur, if the steak is slashed at just the right angle. The purpose is to create “in cold blood” on a plate, an artistic arrangement of the finest charred yet rare steak to ever be created, mixing both ends of the flaming spectrum.
To say it will not be your father’s steak world is an understatement; refining the steak preparation philosophy to include such choices should create a niche of steak culture the world has never seen.