By the time you read this I should be safely back home, after another long weekend of slipping in and out of trance and causing similar slippage in others. I should also have a shiny new certificate naming me a hypnotherapist. To which I can only add, “bwahahahaha!”
But enough about me, let’s talk about Patrick S. Tomlinson. I had the pleasure of meeting Patrick last month during my visit to Michigan for Immortal Confusion, where I learned that he hails from the great city of Milwaukee, competes in half-marathons and triathlons, and sells insurance. He’s also been building up a nice collection of short story sales to a range of anthologies. His first novel, The Wererat’s Tale III: The Collar of Perdition, just came out a few weeks ago from the fine folks over at New Babel Books.
LMS: Welcome, Patrick. I know I lured you here under the pretext of discussing whole term life, but that was just a clever ruse. What I really want to know is, what was your best and/or most memorable meal?
PST: Best and/or most memorable meal I’ve ever eaten? There are a few that jump out for attention, some for the quality of the food, some for the quality of the company, but I’d have to say that the one that sticks out in my mind was maybe six years ago in Atlanta, before I undertook this writing gig. My ex-wife and I both worked for the same insurance agency back then. We were traveling for business for a couple days, training new agents, glad-handing old ones, just making the rounds. We had plans to meet up with another husband and wife team who were some of our better agents in the area and treat them to dinner on the company. Trouble was, neither of us had ever been to Atlanta, except to drive through it at 90 mph on I-75 (such is the local custom). So, being that they were the locals, I suggested that they pick a place and we’d meet them there.
The place they picked was a steak joint called Morton’s of Chicago. Some of you are already sucking air through your teeth, I’m sure, but I did not know what we were getting into. First, we met them at the bar and ordered drinks. Now, I grew up in central Wisconsin, where Miller High Life and PBR flow like water from pitchers and buckets. And while I was far from uncultured, I hadn’t yet been in a place that had specific types of glasses paired to specific craftings of beer. The men drank their brews, while the ladies sipped away on some expertly-poured, garishly-colored concoctions that flowed more like maple syrup than drinks. The before dinner drinks probably numbered three a piece, as we had arrived without reservations and had to wait a spell to get seated.
Once seated, our guide, (I call him a guide because ‘waiter’ simply doesn’t do justice to the service this man provided) gave us menus, which he then went on to explain at length. If the beer-specific glassware hadn’t tipped me off by this point, the fact the menus contained no prices should have. But by then, I was floating along merrily on the dual highs of engaging conversation and a slight buzz. I ordered my ‘starch’, mashed red potatoes with the skins left in, my meat, a filet mingon well-done, and another round of drinks.
I’m sure some of you are cringing at the very concept of a well-done filet mingon, but the texture of rare meat doesn’t agree with my palate. I understand that many carnivores prefer their steak’s experience with fire to be limited to burning the hair off a still twitching slab of muscle tissue, but I don’t believe we stole fire from the Gods just as a way to smoke-up our tents. I want my meat good and dead. The trouble with this is, under normal circumstances, I ask for well-done with the expectation that the cook will assume I’ve suffered some sort of traumatic brain injury, leaving me incapable of forming or holding rational opinions, and therefore deliver a steak the way he wants to cook it, which is typically medium if I’m very lucky. The alternative is, since the furthest most cooks ever go with their steaks is medium, if they actually venture into the unexplored territory of cooking a well-done order, they invariably cook it until it has the texture of saddle leather found amongst the artifacts of a Civil War era battlefield.
So it was with great surprise that about a half-hour later, I was delivered a filet that was not only devoid of any pink at the center, but retained all of its juiciness and flavor. The chef had butterflied the meat, then seared it on both sides to prevent the moisture from leaking out while it cooked under a lid. I’ve since tried to duplicate the process, and while my own efforts have gotten much better, they have never come close to the melt-in-your-mouth texture of that perfectly cooked piece of meat. Everyone else reported similar satisfaction with their meals. A final round of drinks and an after-dinner coffee, and it was time to settle the bill. I should probably capitalize The Bill, which, upon closer inspection, totaled just north of six hundred dollars for four people. By the time our guide’s tip was accounted for, I was putting close to eight hundred dollars on my company’s credit card, which if I’m doing the math right, is almost a quarter of a million in today’s money.
I returned to work the following Monday terrified of the ass-chewing I was going to get, but my boss, Bonnie Patrick, took it in stride. She shared a similar story when she was young and trying to impress some VIP’s, except her evening had happened a couple decades before and ran well into four digit territory. She was a classy lady and a great person to work for.
Thanks, Patrick. Now I understand why my insurance rates are so high.
Next Monday: Another author and another meal!
Tags: Eating Authors