I know it’s been (checks watch like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day)… 9 months since I last updated this site, but in all honesty I was starting to mellow. I started working from home (amazing how cutting out a commute exponentially improves the quality of your life), I’ve moved to the country and – quite frankly – I suddenly found there was a lot less to be angry about. That, and the fact that I already have nearly 50-odd entries in this blog, meant I was bound to run out of things to get vexed about eventually.
But then 2016 happened. So far, a horrid, painful year. A year where beloved artists have shuffled off to the big wrap party in the sky. A year in which the political climate has shifted, as it inevitably does every decade or so, to one of fear and toxicity. A year in which bad things have happened to good people, and good things have happened to very bad people.
Suddenly, there’s an awful lot to get pretty pissed off about. So it’s time for me to step back up to the plate. Time to take the gloves off. Time to go against my own advice and tell it how it is. Time to drop a few atomic truth bombs, and make you question your inherently-prejudiced belief structures as you wander down Middle Class Fury Road, desperate for some clarity in this crazy, mixed-up world.
Friends, I would like to talk about ‘steak on the stone‘. Seriously, what the fuck is that all about?!
I’m paying good money to have a trained culinary professional prepare and cook my food to perfection, and you’re outsourcing the job to someone (me) who’s about as much use around an oven as a man doused in petrol with flint for hands?!
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve watched Jamie Oliver on telly telling me the secrets to making a steak exactly the way I want; I’ve tried the whole ‘press the flesh around your thumb and compare’ bollocks. I’m still convinced that a CHEF stands a much better chance of getting my hunk of cow bang-on medium than I do.
The kitchen staff must be pissing themselves laughing as they look at all their needlessly enchanted customers, giddy at the novelty of paying to cook their own food.
“Careful, it’s very hot,” says the waitress as she delivers four cooking surfaces to an already overloaded table, making herself scarce before the inevitable accidents, as over-excited patrons inadvertently sear the flesh on their bodies rather than their plate. And there’s usually at least one child who just can’t take their parent’s word that this slab of granite is hot enough to edible-ise cattle.
Why not go the whole hog? Bring pots of boiling water and raw vegetables to allow customers to get their broccoli precisely as al dente as they desire. Or how about a pan of bubbling oil and some potato sticks: “There you go, triple cook those, you gullible pricks”.
‘Ah, but what you’re really paying for is the ingredients’ is a counter-argument that holds no water, because it’s clearly bullshit. Everything in a restaurant is marked up to such a ludicrous degree that if I sourced every last baby carrot from a swanky farmer’s market – let alone an Aldi – I’d have saved enough money to afford the supplemental peppercorn sauce (i.e. a ludicrous amount of money). And the service is taken care of by the tip that I’ll be guilted into handing over regardless of whether my shirt escapes the backsplash of some hastily-poured Malbec or not.
No, what I’m paying for is perfectly cooked food – a steak seared by a professional; not a cack-handed pillock like me who will spend 5 minutes nervously observing the progress of what is supposed to be the main culinary event of my meal when I could be engaging in relaxed conversation with my fellow guests. It’s not like I can afford to be distracted when the fate of a £20 cut of meat is resting in my clearly unqualified hands. And I’ll inevitable misjudge the timing and have to whack it back on the stone after cutting into it and watching helplessly as my chips are rendered inedible by a sudden and profuse gushing of lukewarm blood onto my plate. And Jamie says to avoid putting a steak on the heat twice – says it makes for a tougher eat. (He’s right, by the way)
Besides, call me old-fashioned – and those that have commented upon my favourite cravat often do – but isn’t a large part of the joy of eating out the fact that you don’t have to cook?
The world has indeed gone crazy.