Saturday, May 15, 2010

No, really, I like it medium

Siobhan watches a lot of cooking and travel shows in which chefs and cooks pontificate about the best way to cook things. These guys are professionals, experts. They've spent more time studying cooking than I've spent cooking. And amongst the thousands of people who've done that much studying, they're the ones who rose above the pack enough to become famous. (Admittedly, a lot of that is personality and luck, but for at least some of them, some level of expertise and talent has got to be part of the equation. After all, there's plenty of other cooks with personality.) So I assume these guys know what they're talking about.

But almost to a man (or woman), they all have the same idea about cooking meat. Not that "as rare as possible" is their preference, but that there is no question of preference, that there is a right way and a stupid way to do meat, period. If someone pointed out the fact that patrons in restaurants are allowed to say if they want their meat rare, medium, or well, they would groan about it the same they would if, for instance, patrons were allowed to go into their high-class restaurants and order spray cheese on Triscuits, or ask to eat whatever came out of the grease trap.

Actual real human beings I know have a variety of preferences. I know some who like their meat cooked well, some who like it still-red rare, some who want a bit of pink, and some who like me want it just barely brown through, but not a bit more.

But amongst chefs, it seems that the mere existence of the question is a sign that the world is flawed. And I really tire of that attitude. I've heard their explanations, about how it brings out the most flavor, about what "overcooking" does to the consistency of the meat, and all that, and I recognize those are good reasons for trying it. They make similarly good arguments for why you should use this ingredient instead of that one, or when heat should be applied when preparing some dish or other, and their reasons are often sound.

But they rarely go so far as to suggest that you have to like some dish because they do. Yet that's just what it seems to me they're doing. Rare steak is practically a different dish from well-done steak. Anyway, all their reasons only tell me I should try it their way, which I have, but if I conclude I like it another way better, I've got every right to do so.

So, chefs, bite me. (I'm done rare.)

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