Best to Study French Before Ordering a Meal in Paris

I’ve taken a lot of Spanish classes throughout my life and even though my maiden name is French, I never studied it.  I should have though because…

Many years ago, before we were married, Bill and I and my parents liked the looks of a quaint restaurant in Paris for dinner.  The waiter, along with everyone else didn’t speak English any better than we spoke French, which was none.  I saw Steak Tartare on the menu and said we should order it.  I thought for sure I knew what it was:  “rare steak.”  

All too quickly, the waiter arrived with our meal.  Bill and my parents took a look at the plates laden with raw chopped beef steak with a raw egg sprawled over the top and then glared at me. Unfortunately, we then made a huge mistake ~ we told the waiter as best we could with a lot of gestures that we didn’t want the meat and sent the 4 plates of Steak Tartare back to the kitchen.  

With that the chef flew out of the kitchen toward us, swinging his knife and told us exactly what he thought.  Of course, we couldn’t understand a word of it but swiftly got the gist of what he was saying, re-ordered, ate something I don’t remember now and paid for 8 dinners.

I should have studied French back then, but lucky for those who are studying French now as StudyPoint offers French tutoring programs.  What a great way for students to learn the language!  By having his or her own private French tutor, he or she is enabled to confidently use the language as well as raising test scores in school. 

Obviously, steak tartare is not my favorite way of enjoying beef ~ cooked rare on the grill works for me.  When grilling filet mignon, or really any steak, less is more; less seasoning, less grilling time and less stabbing time with a fork. 

First of all, I let it rest on the kitchen counter to come to room temperature.  Then Bill fires up the grill and I season my steak with a sprinkling of garlic powder and both of them with a little salt when it comes off the grill.  It only needs a little seasoning as the meat stands on its own when it comes to great flavoring. 

Bill makes sure the grill temperature is just right; a high temperature to sear in the juices.  Sear for a couple of minutes, flip it with only using tongs and allow it to continue cooking to your desired doneness.  Here are some tips for using the “finger test” for doneness by gently pressing the steak with one fingertip:

  • It’s rare if your finger leaves an indentation.
  • It’s medium-rare if the steak just barely springs back.
  • It’s medium to medium-well if it springs back quickly.
  • If it is tough to the touch, it’s well done as in inedible, ruined. 

    When grilled to perfection, remove it from the fire and serve.

    Cooking steak on the grill is easy; remember less is more and be sure you know what you are ordering in a restaurant!  

    Visit my friend Linda’s blog @My Kind of Cooking for great tips, recipes and cookbook giveaway!


    1. Funny story! We are going to France this fall, I guess I better start learning French. Your picture is making me hungry! We grill our steaks the same way and always use tongs to turn it.

    2. I love travel stories and this is a GREAT ONE.

      Check out my blog today . . . you and your delicious cookie are in my post. Thanks again, for letting me share your recipe.


    3. Good tips there Pam. I was just saying on Monday when I grilled some steaks that I like my own a lot better than any restaurants. I use onion powder instead of garlic powder, and let it rest after grilling so the juices won't all run out when you cut it. I usually don't post my steaks because I always make them the same way (except skirt steak). Wade does start the charcoal for me! :D

    4. My dear Pam!! While I read your story with the tartare in Paris I couldn't help thinking of Ratatouile, the little rat was sure nicer than the awful chef, I can't believe they charged you for both meals (well, I do believe!). Sorry for not visiting as much as I'd like, but I've been too busy. Big hugs and have a great day on Sunday

    5. LOL. I just love Steak Tartare if I had been with you I could have helped you out. If I have cooked steak it has to be what the French call bleu, very very rare. Diane

    6. Oh Pam, I had to chuckle. I spoke German before I spoke English and consider myself proficient in both languages. Dale and I have just finished 14 weeks of French class. All I can say is that it is very diffcult. Using the Rosetta stone has helped a lot. I do believe the older you get, the harder it is to memorize and retain. But, we have learned a lot and because we have been making yearly trips to France for the past few years, we really have perfected ordering off the menu. I hope we will have a better handle on things in about 2 weeks when we leave for Paris. My advise, learn a new language at a young age.

    7. That is such a funny story, Pam. I just returned from Paris and know how confusing a French menu can be. I should have taken more time to learn a bit of French but was always to busy to do it. Next time for sure!

    8. Hillarious! Thanks for sharing that fun story. Luckily, it's much easier to be a world traveler today. Though I didn't have a smart phone the last time I traveled abroad this time I think I would download a dictionary app that would allow me to translate in the local language. I think that would be so handy!

    9. What a great read I really enjoyed this and boy does the meat look awesome!

    10. Oh, what a story Pam. Thank you for sharing it with us. I'm not a fan of steak tartare, my preference is medium-rare. I'm going to Paris in a few weeks time and I look forward to eating some great food there. My French is alright, so I think I'll be OK, hopefully.
      Have a great weekend Pam.

    11. oh boy I don't think I'd be courageous enough to eat that!

    12. Linda, lucky you! You will love France, it's a beautiful country with great food, etc. Better start the French lessons! tee hee!

      Glenda, thanks so much! You are a very kind lady!

      Lyndsey, I so agree with posting about steak as we always eat it the same way every time and absolutely with them being better at home than in a restaurant. I am going to let mine rest a little while the next time before eating!

      Pamela, great comparison with Ratatouile! The chef there was miserable. He was furious and he screamed and yelled. Not a fun meal!

      Diane, I just wish that you had been there! You would've been in heaven with all that good beef!

      Susan, I know you can hardly wait for your trip to France and have been working hard with your French lessons. I so agree ~ it is much more difficult learning a language when one is older. I know you will have a great time and I wish I could join you for a meal there. I'd definitely let you do the ordering!

      Cathy, welcome home! I missed your posting! I'm sure you had a fantastic trip and I'll be looking at your blog soon.

      Kelly, right on with the smart phone! I will be sure to remember that tip with the dictionary. Thanks for stopping by!

      Claudia, thanks; I'm glad you liked it. Have a good weekend!

      Michael Toa, lucky you! I'm definitely envious of you ~ going there and speaking the language also. You will have no problem, for sure. I hope you write some posts about your trip! Have a wonderful weekend!

    13. Very nice tips, and i love the story

    14. oh no! i don't mind rare meat at all, but i have a hard time picturing myself eating raw meat with a raw egg. what an adventure!

      great tips on doneness, i'm craving a steak!

    15. I am sure that every time you think of Paris you think of this story. It's funny how we equate food with our travels. Steak tartare is nit my thing either but I do like carpaccio.

    16. Great tips for grilling to perfection! Love the story too- I'm sure it wasn't funny then, but at least you can look back on it for a smile now. :)

    17. Great tips on the steak. Cute story and thanks for sharing with us.

    18. I had to laugh at this. I went to Paris at age 19, and tried to learn some basic French terms so I could order in a restaurant. Every thing I ordered, no matter how plain or benign (such as salade) had some kind of organ meat in it. Kidney, sweetbreads, liver, you name it. I was horrified.

    19. That must have been an adventure - never to forget!

    20. ha ha ha ha...oh my gosh! In France of all places, I imagine that to be the worst faux pas! LOL. But now you have a funny story to tell ;)

    21. Great story! Having spent some of my younger days in Europe, I'm a big fan of Steak Tartare. In fact, before "mad cow" disease starting appearing, Steak Tartare was always served at our Christmas Eve dinner. Now, I prefer my ground meat cooked.

    22. I wouldn't have been able to eat that, either Pam! Live and learn, huh ;)

    23. Pam this look delicious!Love the history, Pam has a lovely day tomorrow! gloria

    24. This is great. I've had a few language debacles in France even with years of French.

      Wishing you a wonderful Mother's Day!

    25. I still have to remind myself that 'riz' is rice; 'ris' is sweetbreads (the glands, not something to eat with tea)... And they are pronounced the same LOL

    26. Very cute story. I love steack tartare but you have to be so careful now with the quality of the meat.
      Many people get confused here when ordering. I had one friend order a "terrine" thinking it was soup. Alas, NO!

    27. That is so funny! I know that I would have sent it back, since I like my steak well done! lol Hope you had a lovely Mother's Day, cher!

    28. RSA, glad you agree!

      Sylvia, thanks for the visit!

      teresa, I agree with liking rare meat, surely don't like raw though. Have a good week!

      bellini, thanks and you are so right about the memories.

      Betty, yeah, no one was amused that day but we laugh about it now.

      Quay Po Cooks, thank you and have a good day!

      TKW, it's funny now but I'm sure it was frustrating then. We were very careful ordering food from that day on.

      Judy, you got it! Have a good week!

      girlchef, yes, that was the bad part. They obviously took their cooking very seriously then as now!

      Munch and Muse, oh, you are brave and adventurous and it was probably a big treat for you and yours! I definitely wouldn't try it now either regardless of mad cow.

      Karen, glad you see it my way. lol!

      Gloria, thank you and you have a wonderful day also!

      Buttercup, thanks! French sounds so beautiful when spoken and I admire anyone who has mastered it as a second language.

      katie, yes; there;s quite a difference between the two! My dad loved sweetbreads and should've ordered that!

      Dedene, you are a brave lady also with the tartare. Terrine sounds like soup to me but what a shock when it comes to the table. At least it's not raw!

      Marguerite, no doubt with you either since you like meat well done! It's a little mortifying seeing a plate of raw beef with a raw egg over it! Have a great day!

    29. LOL... love the story!! Oh, those French chefs, they are so easily offended!! :)

    30. What a funny story! This reminds me of the show "Mr.Bean" where on one of the episodes, he got exactly this, maybe without the egg, when he went to a French restaurant! Hahahahaha... I thought this only happens in the movies! OK, if I ever do go to Paris, I'll take your advice and learn some French first!
      Happy Mother's Day, Pam!
      (seriously, does anyone eat the meat raw as it is?....well, perhaps in Paris?..I'm curious as to why the chef served it in the first place, and you have to pay for that? LOL! )

    31. Heeehehehe girl, I took one look at that raw ground beef and just cracked up!!!

      Now ya got me hungry for steak. I left the grill out so maybe I'll go hit the freezer. Good thing about livin' on a beef farm...the freezer is always full of good quiality hand fed steaks!

      God bless ya and have a beautiful week sweeite!!!

    32. Jenn, they do have attitude, at least that one did!

      kitchen flavours, too funny with Mr Bean! I actually just watched it on YouTube and we should've done what he did. LOL!!! Yeah, I agree with the paying for it! Thanks for the laugh!

    33. Nezzy, nothing beats steak on the grill! I remember all that good beef when we lived on the farm. Dad made a grill out of bricks in the back yard back in the early 50's and slapped on the meat from our own beef supply. That was the best and I envy you with doing that now!

    34. What a funny story!! One you'll never forget. . lol. I am following your delightful blog and hope that you will visit ours soon!


    35. Thats a nice story !

      New to ur space and Happy to follow u..
      Do visit me a stime permits..

    36. Such a funny story. I love rare steak and carpaccio, but I'm not so sure I'd enjoy steak tartare, especially with a raw egg on top!

    37. Your such a brave soul Pam. I eat raw vegetables lately and i still have to muster up the courage to eat raw meat. Thanks for sharing this funny travel experience! Hilarious!

    38. this reminds me of my favorite gordon ramsey quote " the easiest thing in the world to cook is a well done steak"....

    39. What a great post and
      Oui je parle français! My son whi is a chef just loves Steak tartare. All you hits come perfect for me. We just bought a new BBQ and need to sharpen our techique.

    40. Ooo...the texture of the meat looks so tender and mouthwatering. Thanks. Hope you're having a great day.

    41. Hi Pam, Almost instantly without reading the post I knew what you were going to tell us, and wondered how in the world you got yourself out of that jamb,(by paying for 8 meals) :-(
      Boy that post made me hungry for steak though!!! I want some, all I have here is chicken right now.

      Heritage Basket Studio


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