Saturday, 30 March 2013


Is steak the quintessential classless dish? There are examples dotted throughout film, television and literature of all manner of people making it their (usually evening) meal of choice, and being quite protective about it.

Such as Enid Blyton's Fatty Trotteville, going into the kitchen, having declined to divide his steak among his friends, to make love to the cook and fishing half-cooked onions out of the frying pan.

Shirley Valentine's husband, livid when his Thursday steak is fed to the neighbour's far from vegetarian bloodhound and he is presented with egg and chips instead: "What's this?"

The wailed "Where's my steak and onions?" from a film whose name I can't even remember.

The splendid diet of beefsteak prescribed for the hypochondriac (the one who reads a medical encyclopaedia and discovers he has everything bar Housemaid's Knee) in "Three Men and a Boat".

There is even the glorious moment in my favourite television programme as a child, Rentaghost, when one of the ghosts is ordered to produce a steak to put on somebody's injured eye. Instantly magicked up is a very tempting looking plate of fried steak, chips and peas. Rejected by the wife of the injured party ("Not that kind of steak - a RAW steak you idiot!"), the plate is grabbed by a greedy Christopher Biggins: "I'll have that. Delicious!"

Also from childhood, I remember a particular strip in the recently defunct "Dandy" comic, which was one of the regular adventures of "Bertie Buncle and his Chemical Uncle". In this particular story, the uncle produces in a test tube a synthetic smell of steak and onions, which Bertie "borrows" and takes to school. He surreptitiously undoes the stopper in the classroom where one of those teachers who continued to exist in comics until at least the eighties sits in front of a blackboard, wearing mortar board and gown and brandishing a cane. The teacher is unable to discover the source of the delicious aroma wafting visibly across the classroom and licks his lips: "That smell is beginning to make me hungry. Slurp!" In the next picture, we see the steak-and-onions smell still drifting past the now suffering teacher's nose: "Oh dear, I can't stop thinking about food". Next we see him yelling manically as he leaps from his desk: "Class dismissed! We're all starving!" And finally, they are all wrestling with one another in the tuck shop, food flying everywhere, the teacher at the front of the queue, gown flapping. And all because of steak.

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