Their Way

I change the ashtrays often. The four finish the bottle of Cristal in no time. Both women are lively now…


I answer “I am afraid but I cannot do such!” Then I explain to both, now slightly but noticeable, tipsy women what steak tartare is made off: “…raw fine chopped fillet of beef, prepared at your table.

During the annual local classic car auction events I have a table of real connoisseurs. I know one when I see one. These two gentlemen speak good English. Both tell me that they are from Padua, respective Turin, as they give me their names in case there would be any phone calls for them. They order a $175 bottle of Champagne to start with. I serve the bottle of Cristal.
From the conversation I gather that the accompanying ladies are from Los Angeles. The two women are stunning good looking but bored, and they are not acting. They sport perfect figures and are modeling the latest fashions from some of the better boutiques. These women, in their early twenties, display their inventory of plenty through the material of elegant outfits.
Their male partners in tuxedos are closer to sixty, suntanned and agile. Both men look like they are in good physical shape. The men talk about their trip since meeting at the agency in Los Angeles a week ago. They summarize the interesting places with: “We didn’t care much for Arizona, but love Nevada.”

They are not talking about the countryside. It is Las Vegas they talk about. They rave about the shops, the shows and the splendor of America’s big time gambling places.
None of the four liked the virtual reality games at the Luxor, but surely the building impressed them, the pyramid. They had enjoyed the MGM and its theme park. I hear them complaining about being squeezed within the crowds in front of Treasure Island watching the buccaneer’s show. The women loved it, the men say they were afraid for their jewelry and wallets to be lifted. Amazing enough there were no pick-pockets. They had dinner at all the best places in town. They talk about the Siegfried & Roy show and elaborate in length on a gaudy topless show at another place. They ramble and rant about dance revues at one casino and acrobats at another. The shows in Las Vegas clearly impressed these men.
The women in their company, talk about planning to go to work for a modeling agency in Las Vegas, once their two companions leave the States. These four, don’t care much for Reno either. I don’t understand why, for I love Reno, Nevada. Yet all four are praising Lake Tahoe for the abundance of forests, mountains, water and casinos. The men like San Francisco. The women shrug their shoulders asked “How did you like San Francisco?”
“We got there at night . . . , . . . we left there after dark!” One answers.
“I never left the Hyatt Regency until the limousine picked us up the next night.” says the other.
I get to change the ashtrays often. The men smoke a lot. The four finish the bottle of Cristal in no time. Both women are more lively now.
The men leave. They go to the car auction next door. One woman, the blond Marilyn Monroe look-a-like is getting friendlier with every minute. She tells me that their two friends plan to buy at least two classic cars at the auction next door. They want to add those to their existing collection of Ferraris. The woman says that the guys had left several bids with the auctioneer.

The women finish a second bottle of champagne just as the two gentlemen return. With a broad smile one says, “We got both. Tomorrow I get another one. We have to come back for it, it’s very nice!”
To celebrate they ask for the third bottle of bubbly. Now they are ready for some food. They order oysters and the men want the steak tartar. The ladies join them in their order. However, they have their own ideas about their steak’s cooking temperatures. The blond says “Garcon! Please make mine medium-rare!” The Indian looking black haired model with the olive complexion asks for “Well-done!”
I answer “I am afraid but I cannot do such!” Then I explain to both, now slightly but noticeable, tipsy women what steak tartare is made off: “…raw fine chopped fillet of beef, prepared at your table. Egg-yolk, cornichons, fine chopped shallots, pepper . . . ! True it’s served raw but it’s delicious and it’s said to provide endless energies. However if you ladies want the meat cooked how about a fillet mignon instead?”
“No! We too, we take the endless energy meat!” Both are giggling. They are not bashful at all looking at me and then their table partners. The blond makes another remark about “the f…g meat” this time she is getting vulgar in her vocabulary. The men laugh about her remarks in pure “street-talk.” One has a sardonic grin on his face, the other is holding his belly and moving his chest in gales of laughter. The blond apologizes for her down to earth American slang. I go and do what I have to do. They finish their oysters and I bring them the steak tartar.
I notice my customer’s excited eyes being glued on my hands. I hold two forks, one in each hand. I mash, mix and fold the meat and the spices. They have another bottle of Champagne. The men indulge on their steak tartar. The women barely nibble.
I do a flambĂ© at a nearby table, fresh raspberries. I serve these over ice cream. Done with the desserts, one of the distinguished gentlemen from Italy waves me over and whispers a request into my ear. I nod my head, say “Si, ja, yes!” and go back to the kitchen. Here I wash the flambĂ© pan. Then I take the skillet back to my table of connoisseurs. Here I use a few drops of olive oil to coat the pan. I cook the two women’s steak tartar orders exactly to their taste. They love me for it. They are thrilled about their hamburgers, both act like little girls, who watch their first marshmallows turning brown in an open fire. We don’t have burger-buns, so I toast some French-bread for them, they are in heaven. When I get them some ketchup and mustard too, they tell me that I am going to get the highest ratings from both. I don’t mind going out of my way to please them. Their dinner-check is far above average. Still, I don’t care to tell the chef that I made hamburgers from the twenty dollar per person steak tartar.

by helmut schonwalder