Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Things best not ordered for lunch

I had a smashing steak sandwich for lunch the other day. It was really, really good, and the thing that impressed me was that the chef had propped the lid open with a small stack of onion rings. Proper onion rings - not the crap ones that you get in Hungry Jacks for instance. How often do you get onion rings with your steak sandwich? Not often, you say? I get them almost never. Except that I might get them a bit more often now, since I know the place to go.

The thing is though that the steak sandwich was a bit of a chore to eat. The steak was fairly chewy, and it was still very pink in the middle. I am used to making steak sandwiches out of fillet when I do them at home, but obviously your average cafe is not going to be able to do that and charge only $9.50 for your meal. So they have to substitute other things, like shoe leather and bits of gnarled elephant ear. OK, maybe the steak was not that tough, but I certainly had to pick it up and attack it like a caveman attacking a mammoth bone.

It was a steak sandwich fit for a man.

Which made it the perfect food for three of the four people at the table next to me. They were obviously all from the same office - three blokes (lads I guess you might call them) dressed in suit pants and expensive cotton shirts with no tie. They looked like rugby playing accountants (as in Union, not League). Seated with them was a female work colleague, and she was a very dainty type. She made the terrible mistake of also going the sandwich.

It was alright for the boys - they rolled up their sleeves, tucked bibs into their shirts, scratched their balls and hoofed right in. Within seconds, the three of them had avocado and aioli smeared from ear to ear, and juice running down their forearms. They were ripping and tearing chunks of that steak like sharks having a go at a whale. It was messy and bloody and looked downright tasty.

The poor woman though was trying to eat the sandwich like it was a green salad. She would peck at a bit, then put it down and wipe the corners of her mouth, then chew a bit and have another peck. By then, the boys around her had oven roasted tomato and bits of onion ring under their fingernails and up their noses and they were picking bits of rocket out of their chest hair. Much sucking of fingers could be heard, even over the noise of trucks going past.

And she continued to peck away at it, probably dreading the moment when she would have to start tearing at the steak when it got uber-chewy. I left before that part, so I don't know how this story ended. But I know how it should have started - with ordering risotto instead of a steak sandwich.

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