Alternate word for 'rare', as it pertains to meat

‘Well-done’ meat is obviously cooked a lot. ‘Medium’ is less cooked. These words make sense. ‘Rare’? That doesn’t make sense; so I looked it up.

Note the last sentence, which I have emphasized. If ‘rare’ is or was regarded as an Americanism, what word do/did people use instead? (Please don’t say it’s ‘blue’. That’s different from ‘rare’ in my opinion.)

Well, according to what you posted, “rare” or a close variant was used all the way back to Old English so, in the English speaking world, it appears that there wasn’t any other word used in its place. Meat used to be cooked over open fires, which sear the outside but cook the inside very slowly. So “rare”, to one degree or another, was the natural state of meat going back to when humans first used fire to cook.


It seems to me like it’s only been in the last few years, but I’ve been at or ordered from several restaurants where the order taker has asked some variation of “pink, some pink, or no pink?” In fact, in at least one instance I can remember, after I specifically asked for medium rare, the server asked me again to clarify “pink, some pink, or no pink?” - apparently, per their script/SOP, I had to specify level of pink, not level of rare/well-done.

They have probably had problems with diners who sent back their order because they didn’t actually know what medium rare meant when they ordered it that way.

Wow. Depending on my mood, that is likely the point where I ask for my check, pay what I owe, and go somewhere else.

What if you want red? Do they not do rare?

A local place we like has this on their menu:

Rare: partially raw, warm in the center
Medium Rare: fully cooked, pink all the way though, tender and juicy
Medium: partially overcooked, pink only in the center
Medium Well: overcooked, very slightly pink in the center, dried out with a 24% loss of original weight
**Well Done: **completely over cooked and with most of the flavor, texture and weight destroyed

That’s not what I would consider the typical definition of rare or medium rare:
[li]Rare: cool red center[/li][li]Medium rare: warm red center[/li][/ul]
I agree with kayaker: if a restaurant is asking level of pink for a steak, that’s a non-starter. For a hamburger, that’s okay.

It looks like “underdone” used to be more common in British English until the early 1960s. See the Google Ngram results for British English of “rare steak” vs. “underdone steak.” In American English, “rare” has long been more common: Ngram results for American English

I’ve only ever been asked this for burgers at places like Red Robin. Never at steakhouses, even the chain ones.

Some places no longer do rare, especially with ground beef.

If I cannot get a rare hamburger, I’ll go elsewhere where I can.

Agreed. I like my burgers medium rare, but some places refuse to do anything less than medium. I don’t go back.

Pink is a common term. Also bloody. I’ve seen doneness inflation over the years, what was rare I’d now medium rare, medium is verging on well.

The “pink/no pink” thing might reflect something about a restaurant’s clientele more than something about the restaurant’s ability to put out a good steak. Not to make a value judgement about people not versed in fine dining concepts – just that if your restaurant’s prices and specialties combine to draw in unsophisticated (not ‘bad’) diners looking for something a little nicer than usual for them, I can understand simplifying the concepts.

I’d be really surprised to pay $75-100 for a steak dinner and be asked “pink/no pink”. If I were paying $18 bucks in a chain steak joint, I wouldn’t be surprised at all … though none of the cheap low-brow steak places here have any problem using the typical rare-through-well done continuum.

What Johnny L.A. described is how I perceived the levels of doneness as a child. What JeffB used is what how I hear them used now.

From Pulp Fiction:
Burned to a crisp or bloody as hell?

The term in use before “rare” almost certainly wasn’t “pink”, because that’s itself a relatively recent coinage (at least, as relates to the color). “Pink” originally meant cut into shape along the edges (see “pinking shears”, scissors which cut a fancy shape), and then got applied to a sort of carnation because of the shape of the flowers, and then got applied to a shade of light red because that’s the color the flowers were.

Well that’s just wrong. “Fully cooked” and “pink all the way through” are completely inconsistent: The pink part isn’t fully cooked. If you like your meat better only partially cooked, that’s fine, but that doesn’t mean that it’s fully cooked.

Rare isn’t the least cooked version of steak. There is another category called “blue” that is even less cooked. It basically means just throwing it on the fire for a few seconds and then taking it off. I have no idea why it is called “blue”.

Yes. To me, ‘rare’ means bloody but not cold. ‘Blue’ means bloody and cold*.
*Except for the sear, of course

It’s from French originally (“bleu”), and it refers to the purplish color that raw meat has when you cut into it. Why they didn’t call it pourpre I don’t know.