Pepper Grinder Nation

Among the many steak house/chop house trends I've complained about in my blog is the Paul Bunyan-scale of their offerings. The steaks are enormous, portioned more appropriately for 4-legged carnivores than us upright-walkers. Steak knives apparently needed to be scaled accordingly. I have yet to see a steak knife be delivered to the table without eliciting a quiet but clear surprise. They seem more like evidence in a murder trial than a dining utensil. We are then forced to wield this serrated, comically-huge implement and pretend it feels natural. They seem a better fit for survival in a jungle than simply dividing a steak into chewable portions.

Shortly after being offered this "meat saw", the waiter then asked if I'd like fresh-ground pepper. The origins and usefulness of this practice elude me; for one thing, if I do want some, why do I need to wait until he goes and gets the “Louisville Slugger”? While he/she goes to get it, the food has cooled in the mean time. Second, why does the damn thing need to be that big? I'm insecure enough about a variety of things, I don't need a guy leaning across my date with a long, shapely device which, with a few twists of the wrist, ejects something I'll soon put in my mouth. I must imagine that a compromise in grinder capacity and overall size can be reached.

The size of the pepper grinder generated some debate and brings several theories to mind, the most obvious is that people steal the little ones (drunk people, in my experience, will steal just about anything). The second is, once we've decided a server will do the grinding, a longer grinder allows an easier reach to more distant plates. Fair enough.

However, while peppercorns are hardly picked fresh from the tree/vine and loaded in pepper grinders that morning, I just wonder how long it takes a single peppercorn to make its way from loading platform to your plate. Has anyone tagged a single peppercorn and determined the delay?

How about, instead, you go ahead and put one of those small pepper grinders on the table for me (the 48 bucks you're charging me for a 4 oz. filet mignon with no sides should more than cover the loss of a $2.00 pepper grinder to every guest who orders one).

And, seriously, a normal-sized, sharp steak knife is far more useful than a dull, over-sized one; unless during the meal, the need to gut an elephant seal should arise.

Then again, I did preface this with “steak house/chop house” clarification so the brontosaurus-sized portions and utensils all seem to be part of the package.

See? It's not just me. Here's another good one. (Read the whole thing for a laugh, or do a search for "the giant" for the short version.)

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