They were browning beautifully, and by all definition, qualified as successfully cooked fireside food – somewhat charred, perfectly buttery. My aubergine steaks were ready. That’s right, I said steaks. Fellow braaiers, well into their 4th beer, dove with candour into the linguistic theft I was committing while swinging their sirloin over my plate. Mine were not steaks, after all. They were little rounds of eggplant, cut askance, because, well, that looked fancier and created a larger surface for my blue cheese to reign over.
Were they right? Should we be allowed to call them aubergine steaks? Was I, the herbivore, butchering a language?
In their initial defence, the dictionary does rightly define the word ‘steak’ as ‘a slice of meat or fish, especially beef, cooked by broiling, frying, etc’. Interestingly it stems from the Old Norse word ‘steik’ – meat roasted on a stick.
With ethical and dietary preferences diversifying the food scene, our foodie books and blogs have become a veritable smorgasbord of mish-mashed culinary terms. Where once patties were synonymous with hamburgers, they now encompass any minced and relatively flattened food offering. The plant lover’s menu is rife with chickpea, soy and tofu patties on beds of beetroot instead of brioche. Even mushroom burgers are cast in leading roles, where mushrooms make up the bun, never mind the patty.