My mother always cooked French. That's because she was half French and her mother was pure French and her mother was pure French, going back about 200 years.
But she couldn't cook a steak. She'd take a big steak and fry it long and hard in a big cast iron frying pan until it was well done and the consistency of leather.
Her gumbo was always better.
Later, a girl taught me how to broil a steak and it changed my life.
I have a friend who has some strange dietary habits. For a while he lived on frozen dinners, and he gave up bread awhile back for some reason.
Then, one day, I cooked him a steak and it changed his life. He became a steak eater.
He does have trouble telling a steak from a roast, but give him a steak and he'll sear it nicely in a frying pan and wolf it down, and he says it's good.
I'm not going to begrudge a guy a decent meal, but one thing mystifies me about his ability to eat steak.
It turns out he has had problems with his teeth since he was a teenager. He claims bad teeth kept him from getting ahead in the Navy.
You can't tell, but today the guy has only three teeth, and one is in the front. I don't know where the two others are. All I can say is this guy must have the toughest gums in the world.
I asked him awhile back why he doesn't get some false teeth.
He had some once, he said, but he lost them.
That's a stunning revelation. How do you lose your false teeth?
Well, he said, they were run over by a car.
Another stunning revelation. What did you do, store them in the street?
No, he said. He was out with some pals one night and they were drinking. At one point they had to stop the car because he wasn't feeling well. He got out of the car and relieved his stomach of the excess, and in the process his teeth came out in the mix.
He didn't notice that, but he did notice a police car driving by, so he quickly got back in the car and the driver backed up and they took off. In the process of the getaway, the car backed over his teeth.
My friend doesn't pine for his teeth. What happened to them is just one of those unfortunate things.
I suggested he might want to get some new teeth, but he didn't seem interested. His gums are good and tough, and he can eat steak.
Who needs teeth?
Frank Gray reflects on his and others' experiences in columns published Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. He can be reached by phone at 461-8376, fax at 461-8893, or email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow him on Twitter @FrankGrayJG.