Saturday, April 14, 2012

Travelogue: Australia – You Want A What!?

I had no idea how to respond. So I repeated my order thinking I know "I have an accent (well, here) but really, how hard could it be to understand my order?" Well! Her reaction could not have been more shocked if I had just propositioned a farm animal in her presence!


“It’s mince” she said to me, as if being from America I had never heard of a hamburger.

“I do know what a burger is…” I informed her. “If you cannot prepare it that way, then please just say so.”

“But it’s not a steak!”

“No,” I reiterated, “I understand that. It is ground beef pressed into a patty and grilled, fried ,or otherwise cooked.”

“I don’t understand then.” She repeated.

“Look, it is very simple. I want my burger rare – or medium rare. I just don’t want it over cooked. If you cook them by hand, please ask the chef if he can make it on the rare side.”

“But NOBODY eats a burger that way!” she informed me.

About this time, the chef came out and informed me that it would be no problem and he left. I went off to collect a beer after paying for my meal. While the barman was getting me my beer, the woman from the orders desk came over and tried a completely different tack.

“I have to explain to you that you can’t sue me if you die.”

Taking this complete non sequitur to mean that she was still flummoxed by my order, I tried a different tack as well. “Look,” I countered. “Is your food supply safe in this country?”

“Well of course it is…”

“And is there any law that proclaims to what temperature meat must be cooked to be server?” I continued cutting her off.

“Well, no but…”

“If your food source were unsafe, I would not be eating a burger here at all. If the health department of your fine country believed that their standards of hygiene were insufficient to prevent disease from entering the food supply, there would be ordinances controlling temperatures to which things must be brought to kill those pathogens. So in the absence of those, and in the absence of news stories of teeming masses of people keeling over right and left, I have to assume that it is safe to eat here.”

“But you’re asking us to cook it improperly!” she protested.

“In the absence of codes to the opposition, I have to say that I am only asking you to cook it the way I like it. This is a steakhouse, right? Were this Mackies (What they call McDonald’s) I could understand your reticence. But you do cook to order, on a grill, right?”

“Well, yes but…”

“And to be fair, you did ask how I wanted it.”

“I meant ‘Do you want Onions and Beet Root?’ Not this!”

“Ah, yes! Then I do want onion and beetroot, thanks! And I want it rare.”

Defeated, she reverted to her old standby. “But nobody eats it that way!”

I took my beer and left her, flummoxed, behind the bar and still pondering the strange ways of foreigners. (Even my colleagues believed her behavior to be odd. So it wasn’t just me!)

Wherever you are today, I hope that you’ll have a great weekend!

Don Bergquist – 14 April 2012 – Canberra, ACT, Australia

1 comment:

Don Bergquist said...

...Oh, and lest anyone was wondering, I did NOT die from eating a rare burger!

Don