Article: 288685 of talk.bizarre From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Jonathan D Schuster) Newsgroups: talk.bizarre Subject: e.coli Date: Mon, 02 Dec 1996 05:01:13 GMT Organization: A vastly overrated fetish Lines: 153 Message-ID: <email@example.com> I don't eat steak often. Not because of any deeply held feelings about vegetarianism, nor because of concerns about my health, either. But my wife has been on a fairly strict diet for about the last year, so in the spirit of solidarity with her, I have changed my wicked ways. I'm not perfect, however, and from time to time I have a craving for beef. Specifically a large slab of aged beef, seared outside and blood warm inside. I like to see the perfect crosshatch char marks of the grill and I want that little ribbon of fat along the edge, with a burned and crispy layer and I want a pile of fresh mushrooms broiled in butter along side. So, on my birthday last week, wherein by long standing tradition the celebrant is permitted to select the restaurant, I chose a local steakhouse we've been to a few times in the past. No, not one of those godawful pseudo-Australian "theme" restaurants that have been appearing lately, here in the US of A, but a small joint that makes it a point to serve good steaks. Not a fancy place; located somewhere between "first-date-and-I-have-to-impress-this-person" and "twenty-fifth-anniversary-we-deserve-the-best-damn-the-expense." The quality of the ingredients used is good, the lighting is subdued, the waitstaff is attentive (and more important; seem to genuinely enjoy being there, which is a quality you should watch for and reward accordingly). It is a nice place. I have never been unhappy with it. Tempt not the gods, as they enjoy making fools of the overconfident. I ordered a New York Strip, fourteen ounces. I neither wish to discuss the relative merits of this particular cut of beef, nor the size. I do not wish to debate feed lots, land usage, methane emissions or cruelty to animals. I do not care to hear how badly a cut of meat like this can affect my coronary arteries. This is what I ordered. Live with it. All was going smoothly. I was charming and witty while schmoozing our lovely waitperson during the selection of side dishes. Then the fateful moment: Waitperson: "And how would you like that cooked?" Me: "Very rare," attempting wit, "just show the cow the grill, then kill it." WP (grave): "Oh, I _am_ sorry, we can't do that." Me (temporarily clueless): "Oh, I was kidding. Ha Ha. Just cook it a little less than rare, ok?" WP: "No, sir, I'm afraid we are not allowed to serve anything less than medium rare. We have to do this, for your safety. Will that be ok?" Me: "Uhhhm, no. No it would not. What are you doing for my safety?" WP (leaning in close and speaking softly): "It is because of the e-coli. It sometimes gets in the meat. You wouldn't want that, it can make you sick and the meat needs to be cooked to get rid of it." (leaning in very close to me, so as not alarm the other patrons) "People have _died_ from eating meat that wasn't cooked enough. So we have a rule, we can't serve anything less than medium rare." I believe I am a fairly easy-going type. I try to take the position that while stupidity is often fatal, ignorance can be cured through education . It seemed to me quite clear that what was required here was education. So I proceeded to enlighten my dear friend with the following points: 1) E-coli is a fairly rare contaminant. 2) The problem with meat occurs when the bacterium is introduced into meat, as when it is ground into hamburger. 3) Surface contamination on a whole cut, like a steak, merely requires searing the surface of the beef to kill the bug. 4) The reported deaths were result of eating undercooked hamburger. 5) Death is more likely in the very young or the elderly. I am neither. I was brilliant. Impassioned. I laid out my argument logically and with passion. All in all, it was a grand lecture. Not one of my best, but fairly impressive considering it was both impromptu and lubricated with one of Scotland's better single-malt refreshments. Throughout this dissertation, my lovely bride (who has seen this type of thing all too often when in public with me) merely amused herself by folding and re-folding the table linens into interesting origami shapes. When I completed my elucidation of point #5, the now visibly uncomfortable waitperson held up one hand and offered the following blistering riposte: "Uhm, I think maybe I had better get the manager." And made a tactical withdrawal toward the nether regions of the restaurant. Sitting back, I rewarded my brilliance with additional liquid refreshment. I was confident that the manager, once summoned from the bowels of the office, would be positively overawed by my point of view and dinner would resume unimpeded. Further, this tale of "JD Schuster -vs- the waitogre" would be passed on from generation to generation as another classic illumination of the principle of knowledge triumphing over ignorance and superstition. I was imagining some modern-day Michelangelo capturing my essence in a glorious frieze depicting this heroic battle. I was awaiting a call from the Pope regarding possible canonization (pre-posthumus, as it might have to be). I was calm, I was serene, I was tapped on the shoulder... "What seems to be the problem here?" Now, let me assure you that any conversation that begins with that sentence is one that doesn't bode well for the person required to come up with an answer. Also, once an issue has assumed the proportions of "The Problem", you are not in a good position to bargain. I forged ahead, heedless of my fate. I once again presented my argument. The manager responded by advising me, ever so nicely, that it would be better for all concerned if I were to agree to have my steak cooked medium-rare. I suggested that perhaps the concern was rooted in the litigious nature of modern society in the US of A. I indicated my willingness to sign any waiver they had available. If they didn't have a form waiver available, I offered to draft one on the spot and challenged him to ask any lawyer in the restaurant to find flaw with the document. The manager avowed that this was not the issue; that he and the restaurant really had concerns for my health. Parts of the rest of it are a little hazy. I do not recall exactly when I departed controlled flight, but I suspect it was while trying to absorb the legal fiction of a business entity having concern about my health. I seem to remember sarcastically asking them why, then, were we seated under the same roof as patrons who were smoking? And why also, would they serve alcohol? I have a vague recollection of asking if "Hannibal Lechter" came into the restaurant and tried to eat the manager's liver "with fava beans and a nice Chianti" if he would have to wait for them to cook it up first..... I wound up ordering the stuffed flounder. It was overcooked. Of course. JD Schuster Dec 01 1996  no disrespect intended. I suspect the "fad" may be somewhat insulting to Australians.  a steal from, I believe, Robert Heinlein.  no I am not, thank you very much, apology accepted.