June 26, 2004

Austin – day four

Everyone in the lab started to feel kinda light today after 4pm. Some even packed their stuffs up and went straight home. That was about the time I made my move – I asked those guys about places that I could get either a really good Mexican, or steaks that would make me squeal “wooooo!”.

Well, my queries kinda psyched the guys up and they recommended so many places… that I had a hard time recording them all. After much contemplation, I made up my mind to dine at a place called Saltgrass. It is located a few miles down the freeway, and according to the guys, the trip should worth every single drop of gas.

But before that, I asked Jase about steaks. Like, what to recommend… (I know nuts when it comes to steaks).. it went like this

Me : “So Jase, which type of steaks do you normally prefer? I’m lost here.”

Jase : “I don’t know man. It depends. But porterhouse is pretty cool.”

Me : “What’s the local favorite then?”

Jase : “Maybe we can ask John for that”.
[John is the lab manager that sits far back at the lab]

Jase : [shouts to the back] “Hey John ! Which steak do you prefer?”

John : [shouts back] “What ?”

Jase : “Which steak do you normally prefer ?”

John : “Texas !”

Jase : “No man… steak … Michael is asking for some suggestion for a good steak”

John : “I thought you said STATE !”

John suggested a T-bone. But I hate T-bone because I don’t like to waste my time with bones.

Anyway, we arrived at Saltgrass early at about 6pm, to avoid the crowds. It was a somewhat famous place, and patrons sometimes have to wait for hours just to get a seat. So, I opted to go there earlier.

I got myself an order but Cheecheongfun had some problem communicating with the waitress, especially when he was asked how he wanted it cooked. He was all puzzled there and was looking at me for help. So, I kinda had to tell him in broken Mandarin that how he’d like his ‘cow’ cooked. He told me he’d like it to be 75% raw, or at least that was what I understand.

So, I told the waitress “My friend here would like his steak Rare”, but that was totally opposite of what Cheecheongfun wanted (he actually meant 75% done)

I did not realize the mistake until sometime through the waiting, when he told me in our casual chat that he do not like his food raw (which he also took the trouble to explain how he hated salad and Japanese food). That was when I went – oh fuck!- realizing that I had ordered the wrong stuff for him.

I then attempted to cajole him into accepting raw food, to mitigate the problem… I kind of told him that nobody eats their steak fully done. I told him that cool people (like me) always eat it at least medium rare… because the steak would be juicier that way (I’m convincing him as if I know a lot about steaks like knowing my own mother). He kinda dug what I said there… and I eventually revealed to him that I purposely ordered a ‘rare’ steak for him – just to let him experience something new. Of course I fucking lied.

Guess what happened? He actually enjoyed it. He told me it was indeed something different and it was good. But I wasn’t sure if he lied because I actually saw him struggling with the blood when he was sawing through that piece of bloody meat… *shrugs*.

Dining with him was never easy. As I have said, this guy eats like a supersonic jet engine… but then, luckily, that place was a noisy place and I enjoyed most of my meal peacefully (despite the disturbing view of seeing Cheecheongfun poking at his blood covered food…).

And when I was driving both of us back, Cheecheongfun bitched about having to pay for the exorbitant sales tax. That was when I got really pissed with him and I lectured him in broken Mandarin that taxes are important for the economy. I told him that the government needs money to build roads, schools and to supply electricity to every home so that we can watch porn at home. They also need money for the army. Weapons, tanks and shits. If there aren’t any tax around, his country would have to go to war by just hurling stones… and that is – if there are soldiers willing to fight at their own expense.

He gave a good thinking about it and finally gave me a nod of approval – which I was kinda surprised that he was actually able to comprehend my really beautiful Mandarin. Signs of improvement.

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