Sorry for the famine/feast nature of this blog this month, but there you go. The last post reminded me of this incident in france.
We'd picked up a cheap coach trip to Paris for new year, most of our fellow travellers were content to stay with the coach & guide, minimizing their contact with actual parisians, not me. I found myself at a small bistro on the left bank, there seemed to be a few locals enjoying the food, so I decided to go in. I suppose here I ought to point out that I was getting by with 5 years of school french (a scraped 'C' at GCE) which was doing fine. I got a nice table for us & was happily decoding the menu when a member of staff appeared, 1 carafe of white vin de table later & we'd decided on our meals, I was voted in as order giver (something to do with the way I'd handled the wine question apparently).
It was all going well, till it came to my steak, I decoded the question & froze the only thing I could remember was "moyen" or medium, there was no way I was going to submit to the indignity of medium steak. The waiter patiently repeated the question for me as my brain raced for anything that would help.
It lit on bleu, that would do. (important aside here the French natrually cook steak rarer than the English, when they say rare, they mean it).
"Bleu monsiuer ?" Came the reply along with a quizically cocked eyebrow. "oui, bleu si vous plait" (I'm nothing if not polite) and away he scurried to the kitchen.
A pleasant few minutes with the vin blanc for company and a rehash of the mornings adventures including a little smugness about taking the stairs on the Eiffel tower (its cheap & there is hardly any queue, south pier). The food started to come out, I should have been alerted by the fact my steak wasn't in the first batch, but hey vin blanc.
I was alerted when it wasn't in the 2nd batch and I was marshalling my forces for an attempt to find out what was going on, but I became aware of some form of commotion over by the kitchen and the complete absence of front of house staff. The kitchen door opened, their was "our waiter" and more importantly "my" food. I somehow missed the complete collection of staff surrounding my steak and spilling out of the kitchen. (I was focussed on my steak).
The plate was put in front of me with some ceremony and the waiter retreated, but no far enough to go & do some more waiting, no. He (and every other member of staff) wanted to see what happened when I started into the steak. To put a quick end to this slightly uncomfortable pause I went straight to the meat (ignoring the potatoes, salad, and veggies). It was lovely, even if a bad vet coulld have got it moving again. No sooner than the first mouthfull had gone down & the waiter was back, "the steak was it suitable ?", "oh yes, it was very good". The kitchen door slammeed shut, barely disguising the chuckles & at least one curse. I suspect somebody had lost a sum of money on my steak consumption.
(I enjoyed that trip, eating and drinking my fill & frightening the coach party with my tales of eating snail and talking to french people)