Some years ago, a mentor took me to a very fine restaurant in Boston. It was one of those places where the menu was select, the cuisine was art and the price was outrageous and you went there because you could and because it said something about your status. As a guest, I was a bit of an outsider and it showed when I ordered the steak - a Kobe steak. Unbeknown to ignorant me, Kobe beef is a delicacy valued for its flavour, tenderness, and fatty and marbled texture. Chefs insist on cooking it rare to medium at best. But unbeknown to the chef, he had a guest that insists on only eating meat well done - me! When I ordered it "well done", there were gasps and the waiter even suggested I should have it medium, but in my ignorance I insisted. When the dish was served medium rare I felt embarrassed. I dared not complain. But my mentor knowingly asked me how my steak was. Quietly, not wanting to cause a fuss, I explained, and he told me that if I was ever going to get what I wanted in life, I had to ask for it.
The Menu, serves up a movie that is both rare and well done. It focuses on a chef played by the inimitable Ralph Fiennes who, tired of the pretentiousness of his art and his life, decides to break from it all to create an ingenuous and ingenuine menu for carefully chosen guests, - who have no idea what he has cooked up for them.
This dark comedy/horror will either have you canceling your fine dining reservations and heading to the nearest McDonalds or will leave you pondering how much of your life is still palatable.
One of the key ingredients to understanding this masterful composition is a quote the chef shares with his captivated diners, from Martin Luther King.
"We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed" he tells them as he prepares their next course.
Well it's a lesson many of us never learn, even when we learn it and that may well be the point. Many of us are so caught up in a pattern of living a subservient life that we never, ever truly demand life how we want it. Even when we know we could and should. We would rather sit there and let life serve up what it will, than properly fight for what we want.
Anyway, as you may have guessed in the end I got my steak well done, and in the process I learned a valuable lesson...or did I?
The Menu...well written, well acted, well done!