Thursday, January 27, 2011

Beef: it's what's for lunch

There are, it turns out, not one but two amazing-looking butcher shops on the street in question. But I opted for the one I'd already had my eye on. It was interesting in there, with some veganism-inducing intact poultry-heads. (There they skip the guillotine?) I knew I had to go for it.

I knew precisely what I wanted - a steak small enough to fit in a pan, uncomplicated enough that I wouldn't need to use the method I do at home for not-the-finest-cut but otherwise good quality steaks: sear in a pan, finish in the oven. I knew the vocabulary for getting what I was looking for, but not what to point to - everything on display looked like some kind of roast to feed one's large and festive French family. (Or, in the case of the guy in this dorm who dresses up and makes 12-course meals for himself and a few friends every night, thus why the steak experiment has to be at lunch, one's large and festive French group of college friends.) What about just, well, steak?

Before I had gotten into the saucepan/oven situation, i.e. the fact that the device I use to heat water for coffee and pasta will have to do, I said steak, not too big, and the butcher knew what I meant, cutting off 4 euros worth of something that looked to have once been part of an especially delicious cow, in a configuration that I think will fit in the saucepan just fine. The price-quantity ratio seemed about right, supporting the idea that I'd gotten my point across.

I of course still managed to make a faux pas - whereas the other (elderly, retired, reminding me that I really need to wake up earlier, not that I wouldn't join the French elderly, complete with scraggily bichon, if this were an option) customers exchanged banter with the butcher, with me, once what I was ordering was sorted out, he announced the price. I'd seen everyone else lining up to pay at a register, but normally the price is only announced like that when you're being asked to pay up immediately. So, I may have annoyed the butcher by having reached for my wallet prematurely. How much of a problem this is depends upon how annoyed he was, and how good the steak turns out to be, whether this has to become a regular thing.

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