There's a range of temperatures for a given doneness and you appear to be picking the top of a range at some point in the past and comparing to the bottom of a range today.
Funny how I know you didn't even check my sources to say that.
Funny how I originally wrote my post with links to sites containing historical references to doneness terminology, complete with quotes from sources speaking about temperatures for different levels at different dates in history *and* to sites with charts with temperatures used currently for doneness levels. The one thing that became abundantly clear while reading this stuff was that the older references were all over the map in terms of the relation between temperature and doneness. Given that my statement didn't actually disagree with your own on this (you also included multiple historical references that varied wildly) and I was going in the direction of "who cares, since those terms are used very consistently today
, I decided there was no value to adding the links.
Unless you're arguing that there is significant disagreement and variation among chefs *today* regarding temperature and corresponding doneness? If not, then what's your point? I'm not disagreeing with your stated facts. I'm disagreeing that this is relevant in terms of determining what is meant by "medium rare" today.
That's the point. The meat hasn't changed. A tender medium cooked ribeye is just as flavorful today as it was 50 years ago, only now we call it well done.
Actually, on that one I have to disagree though. You even made a more correct point earlier. The top end of the scale hasn't changed, but the bottom has (depending on which source you're using). Love of cooking (1936 version) puts the range between rare and well in the 140 to 170 temperature range. Modern doneness charts
put that range between 130 and 170 (actually, that one only goes to medium well, which should speak volumes about not cooking meat that hot). What's happened is that as meat production has become safer and eating grilled steak directly (as opposed to putting meats into other dishes, roasting, braising, etc) has become more common, a greater appreciation for the range of lower temperature cooked meat has risen. So 80 years ago, the range was 140=rare, 160=medium, 170=well, now it's 130=rare, 135=medium rare, 145=medium, 160=medium well (and 170 is presumably still "well" if you can even find someone to cook it that way anymore).
The total range of the temperatures has widened by 10 degrees at the bottom end, but we've compressed the well end and stretched the rare end. This is a reflection of the modern reality that only a small number of people eat steaks cooked anywhere near 160 degrees, but a whole lot of people eat them between 130 and 145. So it makes more sense to place more labels in between the ranges most people want their steak cooked to. Point being that if you ordered a steak cooked to 170 degrees back then, it was well done back then and it's well done today (medium isn't in the picture). If you'd ordered a medium steak back then, you'd get something we'd call medium well today (but we're still talking about 160 degrees). The biggest difference is that the bottom range has changed. Rare was the lowest temperature you'd likely get a steak cooked at the time. Back then, it was 140 (what we'd call on the medium side of medium rare), while today it's 10 degrees cooler.
You'd have a point if you'd said that ordering a rare back then would result in something quite different from a rare today.
This, btw, is the stuff I decided wasn't really relevant to the point I was making. I'll ask again. Why does this matter? Are you planning on traveling back in time in order to get confused about what exactly a medium cooked steak is? Or are you somehow stuck on the label? I guess I don't get it. None of what you're saying in any way refutes the original statement I made and you quoted. You are still wasting your money asking for a ribeye or strip steak cooked medium well or well. You're cooking it to 160 degrees or hotter, which is going to make the steak lose most of its tenderness and flavor. It would have done so just as much back in the 1930s too. Difference is (as I already pointed out), meat cooking was more about cooking completely to kill bacteria, and they rarely just served the meat without additional preparations, sauces, etc.
Face it, everything you believe about meat doneness is the result of wasps in the 1980s trying to impress their dinner guests.
Keep telling yourself that. Not sure who you think you're going to convince here. Frankly, I'm not even sure what your point is. Regardless of what you call it, you like your steaks cooked at a temperature way beyond what most people enjoy. That's fine, I guess, but it's like you're trying to blame label changes on this or something. What does one have to do with the other? Doesn't make a lick of sense. Edited, Oct 1st 2012 7:27pm by gbaji