One of the things you do when visiting the family for the Christmas holiday is to bring your family out into public so that you can feel embarrassed not just at home, but in a variety of places.
While dining the other night at a restaurant in Park City, my father spotted Steak Diane on the menu. Like a bite of Proust’s madeleine, this sent him into a kind of reverie.
“It was while your mother and I were living in Northridge,” it began.
“We were driving to Sequoia or somewhere. Anyway, we were near Modesto or Fresno and we were hungry.”
“We were driving through this small town at night, and on either side of us there were scores of car dealerships - and I mean fancy car dealerships - Lincoln, Cadillac, Oldsmobile . . .”
(Chuckles from my sister and I. My father oblivious.)
“We followed the road until we found a little restaurant and stopped for dinner. We both ordered the Steak Diane. Maybe that was the first time I ever had it. The waiter brought it to the table on a cart and it was served flambé. He rolled up the sleeves of his tuxedo jacket and cut our steak right there at the table. It was decadent and it was just delicious. I always remember that.”
Later, after Tim and Chiara had been convinced (how?) by this story to order the Steak Diane, my father lamented the inferiority of the Steak Diane served to them - which did not come flambé.
“This just isn’t Steak Diane,” he said with a shake of his head.