Being a Depression era child, a U. S. Army Infantryman and a college student under the G. I Bill hardly prepared me for haute cuisine. So when I joined a business publication in San Francisco the finer things of life were all very new to me. In other of these stories I have reiterated how my employers believed in the good life on a truly grand scale, or so it appeared to me.
I have also hinted on other occasions that a good deal of drinking went on, much of it at long lunches since it was in the three martini era. Up to this point of time my drinking was mostly confined to beer, which fit my pocketbook and if it was hard stuff, in the service or college, our idea of a cocktail was generally a Boilermaker or Depth Charge. In my group a really fancy drink was a rum concoction called a Zombie, and two of those were guaranteed to put anyone's lights out.
However it is surprising how quickly one can accept and appreciate the good things of life. It wasn't long before I came to appreciate martinis, sometimes too much so. These and Old Fashioned Cocktails were the drinks of choice for the business people I now associated with
But dining in fine restaurants and their menus did offer some challenges and surprises for me.
One day I went to lunch with my two employers where we met several executives of a prominent distiller. This took place at Sam's in Maiden Lane, which was one of my associates' favorite watering holes and restaurants.
This day two at the table ordered steak tartare, stating how great it was at this restaurant, so I ordered the same. I did not have the slightest idea just what steak tartare was but figured it would be some specially prepared steak sandwich or such.
When the entrees arrived that steak tartare looked to me very much like raw hamburger. Recovering from my initial shock and horror I bravely worked on my entree refusing to admit to anyone my inner dismay.
It was one more lesson to be learned, one of many that took place those first months on the job. Later I learned to actually appreciate a well made and served steak tartare.
But I always order it with a secret smile remembering those days of early beginnings when it was just raw hamburger.
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