Jay Fox's Dining Guide

How to screw up a good bugger in one easy lesson

“Nothing would be more tiresome than eating and drinking if God had not made them a pleasure as well as a necessity.” — Voltaire

I REALLY LIKE ST JOSEPH HOSPITAL. It’s nice and comfy… if you’re sick. But you don’t want to be there, or at any hospital, if you’re really sick, cuz they’ll make you sicker. You’ll never be allowed to sleep. “No, Mr. Fox, we have to take your vitals every 15 minutes so that we know that you aren’t dead.” But if you have to be in a hospital, St. Joe is great. Not quite as great as my hospital, Rose Medical Center, but still very nice. Great docs, great nurses, great meds, even great food. The room service grub was really good, or so I was told. But then there’s the buggers in the cafeteria.

Over the many years I’ve been on this planet, I’ve consumed something like 78,000 meals. A good many of those 78,000 meals have been buggers. And as part of eating those good many of buggers, I’ve watched chefs and cooks and bums and my kids and other folks cook buggers. But in all that time, I’ve never seen anyone destroy a beef patty with such precision and such care.

OK. So I’m at the grill in the cafeteria at St. Joe. There’s a large color poster promoting their new Angus bugger, the best you can
get. So I ask the grill lady for a rare bugger on a toasted bun with nothing on it. Other than the meat, of course, cuz she might have handed me a toasted bun. I wanted to be specific.

There’s a bucket with semi-precooked patties in it on the side of the flat grill, and she reaches for one. I told her that I didn’t want one of those, I wanted one cooked fresh, cuz I wanted mine cooked rare, and the ones in the bucket were already cooked. She replied that they had only been partially cooked, and she would finish them off on the grill. “No,” I replied, “I would like one cooked from scratch.” I got The Look. So I say, “OK, if they’re only partially cooked, I’ll take one of those.” So she pokes around and grabs one that looks kinda undercooked, which I thought was a good sign. Little did I know that she was about to spend the next 40 minutes bringing that sucka to temperature.

She cooked it. She whacked it. Really. Took her spatula and whacked it. Then she flipped it. She flipped it not once, but at least 15 times. Then she committed the ultimate sin: She took the spatula and she squished it. She squished the hell out of it. I yelled, “WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING, LADY?” “I’m making sure it is cooked through,” she sez. I replied, “Lady, you’ve cooked that beyond recognition. It has to be at least 350 degrees!”

Then, for the first time, she told me that hospital regulations would not allow her to serve me a rare bugger. Why didn’t she say something when I first ordered it?

Then she did the even-more-worser-thing. Something I’ve heard about but actually never seen. Ceptin’ maybe in a horror movie starring Bobby Flay. She actually took the spatula and cut the bugger in half. Then she took the very same spatula in the very same hand and cut the half in half. When I gave her the “gasp!!” look, she told me that she had to make sure this former piece of beef was thoroughly cooked.

I was so … what’s the word? Horrified? Mortified? Frightened? After all, she might come across the counter and decide to cook me. “Lady, I really don’t want that bugger.” She asked, “What do you want me to do with this?” No, I didn’t say it. I was good. I looked to my right where two gentlemen were waiting to place their order, and I sed, “Maybe one of these gentleman wants it.” And I walked away.

Now I was really hungry, so I headed to the sangie section of the cafeteria where I had earlier spotted tuna salad. Y’all know that maybe even more than buggers, I luv tuna sangies. But first I asked about the
ingredients. I’ve learned to ask cuz lotsa folks put stuff in tuna salad. Like pickles or relish, and I don’t like either. Can’t stand the taste of pickles in tuna. Just put in tuna, mayo, celery is good, maybe a bit of onion. No relish.

So I asked. The very nice lady at the counter replied, “No, there’s no pickle or relish … I think. Let me ask. Well, there’s a tiny, tiny bit of pickle.” So I buy a tuna sangie. It had more than a tiny, tiny bit, but I was hungry so I ate it. Had a really good bag of potato chips and a good Diet Pepsi (in a bottle).

What about the manager-type at the eatery at Foothills Golf (3901 S. Carr St., Denver, 303-409-2400; www.foothillsgolf.org) who told me it was not possible to cook a bugger rare from a frozen state? Where do these yea-hoos come from? Do they make up things as they go along in life? Must be related to the same dude who thinks babies come from kissing too much. LOL, actually, in the mid-’60s I had a secretary who, until she was in her 20s and married, thought that very thing. Amazing.

Speaking of amazing, I’m always amazed at how good food looks on TV, compared to how the product looks at the restaurant. The new BK grilled thingies with onions and cheese sauce look sooo good. A nice thick, rare bugger with juices flowing, nice and brown, grill marks, lotsa cheese sauce and beaucoup onion thingies. Course y’all know that the real thing doesn’t look anything like that. I guess the marketing works, cuz I eat them all the time. They’re actually perty tasty for a well-done bugger. I get ‘em for breakfast.

Best, Lee

Keep them love letters coming, folks. Cya.

Jay Fox is evidently feeling better and enjoying his food.