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Would you like to “meat” me for dinner in España?

30 April 2008
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Either the Spanish enjoy their meat rather rare, or they think Americans do (or maybe the Dutch? or Germans?). MC and I have ordered steak in some form or another (entrecot, solomillo—it’s hard to figure out what to order because I don’t even know cuts of meat in English) five or six times now and, of course, every time the server has asked us how we would like it cooked. I’ve never caught the exact words they use to ask, but we figured out pretty quickly what they meant. Unfortunately, we haven’t been sure how to answer in Spanish and so far every time we’ve gotten steak, they’ve basically just led a cow—still mooing and chewing its cud—out from the kitchen. It’s a little awkward.

Fortunately, because I’m all smart and stuff, after six weeks of having to ask the server (in Spanish!) to take the cow back into the kitchen and slaughter it and possibly give it five minutes on the grill, I realized I could ask one of my Spanish teachers (who was born here and actually knows the language) how to order steak. So for anyone who is considering a trip to Spain and would like to be able to order cow that’s already dead and cooked a little, I humbly submit the following:

In Order from Rarest to Most Well-Done:
casi vivo (almost alive)
poco hecho (a little done)
vuelta y vuelta (turned and turned…basically rare)
al punto (medium)
muy hecho (very done / well done)

So upon further reflection and in consideration of the fact that they’ve got three different forms of rare, I think it is probably the Spanish that like their cow served living tableside, and not their assumption of American carnivorous tastes.

Vuelta y vuelta seems to be the default for non-Spanish speaking patrons. So basically, if you blankly stare at the waiter when they rattle off something after you order, you’re probably going to get a bloody hunk of meat. I must say, however, that because of my ignorance my tastes have changed a little since we’ve been here. Too afraid to ask the server to take the meat back and cook it a little more, I’ve just eaten what I’ve been served, and I think the Spanish might be on to something with this whole eating meat a little closer to its natural state thing. I figure that since I’m willing to eat beef carpaccio, I can eat rare steak, and honestly, we haven’t had a bad piece of meat since we’ve been here. So the above list is for your benefit if you’re making a trek to Spain anytime soon, but you might want to try the staring blankly strategy—so far it’s worked for us!

-cuptastic

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Countess of Cava permalink
    30 April 2008 10:41 am

    Hey, this is good info to know. I have never ordered beef while in Spain so I never learned these phrases. Thanks for the lesson, Cuppie.It is also interesting because the Spanish tend to eat their lamb done or well done. I can’t remember a waiter ever asking me how to cook the lamb I ordered. It always showed up on my plate done, even in private homes it was cooked more tham I cook it at home.

  2. Spirit of 73 permalink
    2 May 2008 12:31 pm

    I can’t say I had heard ‘al punto’ or ‘vuelta y vuelta’ before. As a bloodthirsty carnivore, I was always content with the still-throbbing hunk of red flesh that got dumped next to my potatoes. Occasionally, I can even hear it whimper as I bite. Delicious.

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