London Broil (part 2)

If you missed part one, you can read it here.

In the late 1980’s I took my BBQ destruction techniques to sunny San Diego. Here was the perfect climate for the year round tormenting of Sears BBQ’s.

I was ‘headhunted’ to join a large and complex computer project, the computers in question were an obscure IBM box called an 8100. The team of 120 programmers had been assembled from all over the world. The staff directory read like the UN. The UK, Canada, Israel, Hong Kong, the UK, and even South Africa were all represented. We worked hard, and we played even harder!

I had a house about a mile from our development facility and it was not long before it became ground zero for impromptu get togethers. The guys would talk work, drink beer, and BS, while the wives did, well whatever wives do!

Mike and Carol were recent imports from the UK so I invited them to come over for a BBQ, yup London Broil was on the menu.

It was a great hit. Mike and Carol had never tasted anything like it before. A few days later Carol phoned my wife and invited us to come to their new home for a BBQ. She agreed. When I heard the news I expressed my doubts that someone fresh “off the boat” from “across the pond” could possibly have mastered the art of the BBQ in such a short period of time.

“master the art” my wife said with incredulity “all you do is destroy them”.

I was somewhat hurt by the comment, but let it go. Although I have to admit that I had had little success in invoking the ‘Lifetime Guarantee’. In the fine print was some reference to ‘cruel and unusual punishment’ that voided all potential replacement issues. I also suspect that Sears had embedded some logic code in their computer system:

If Customer-Name = Simon Barrett just say no!

At the appointed hour we set off to meet at fate at the hands of Mike and Carol. We were given the obligatory tour of the new American Castle, four bedrooms, two baths, double car garage and a back yard the size of a postage stamp. The lawn area was so small that you could keep it serviced using a battery operated Ronco Nose Hair Trimmer.

There was however one thing conspicuously absent. The BBQ! It is always impolite to ask whats for dinner, so I kept quiet. They must have been reading my mind, “we enjoyed your London Broil so much, I do hope that you like ours”.

Carol went on to explain that she had modified the recipe a little. Well, I love new ideas, innovation is a great thing.

They had indeed been industrious. The dish may be called London Broil but it does not have its roots in English cuisine. Mike and Carol fixed that! Neither of them liked the idea of smelling up the new refrigerator with sliced onions so they had not used them in the marinade. Worcester Sauce looked a little thin and wimpy, so they ditched that as well. In fact neither of them could see any reason to marinade the meat at all.

It turned out that they had been so busy moving in that they had had no time to actually buy a BBQ, so they were going to use the oven. And to add a little spice the meat would be given a couple of dollops of HP Sauce.

It was right about now that I was glad that not only had we brought along some beer we had also brought a bottle of tequila. I am not a fan of tequila, but it certainly has a numbing effect on the brain.

The nightmare started to unfold. The poor unsuspecting slab of cow was coated in HP and cooked on high for about a half bottle of Tequila!

I reasoned that it could not get worse, I was wrong.

Apparently Au Jus was to watery, so in its place Bisto instant brown gravy.

The bread was also a bit of an issue. Carol had sent Mike to the local supermarket and being shopping challenged had been unable to locate the fresh bakery section. So nice fresh crusty French bread was off the menu. He did however accidentally stumble on the three week old presliced plastic wrapped, section. Wanting to make an impression he had skipped the Wonderloaf, and instead grabbed a bag of ‘Texas Toast’.

He did make it to the produce section, but apparently could not locate Horseradish Root, instead, with the help of a store employee had found something white, creamy and in a plastic squeeze bottle.

“OK, lets eat”, I am in shock, but play along.

The poor slab of meat is now that wonderful grey color that you associate with British cooking. “check this out” my host tells me, and produces an electric knife. Cutting on the bias is out of the question. In fact I doubt that by this point it would have been physically possible for the knife.

So dinner is served. The beef by this time had decided to fight back. It had the tenderness of concrete. Served on Texas Toast, a spoonfull of Bisto gravy a squirt of white stuff, this was eating high on the hog!

Simon Barrett

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