With this fact before my eyes, I can assure you I did not lightly lay a hand on its integrity. My friends, you have eaten that sirloin without knowing it. You may remember that yesterday after lunch the Colonel was loud in praise of a dish of beef. Well, that beef was a portion of the same, and not the best portion. The Manzo in insalata, which pleased the Colonel's palate, was that thin piece at the lower end, the chief function of which, when the sirloin is cooked whole, seems to lie in keeping the joint steady on the dish while paterfamilias carves it. It is never eaten in the dining-room hot, because every one justly prefers and goes for the under cut; neither does it find favour at lunch next day, for the reason that, as cold beef, the upper cut is unapproachable. I have never heard that the kitchen hankers after it inordinately; indeed, its ultimate destination is one of the unexplained mysteries of housekeeping. I hold that never, under any circumstances, should it be cooked with the sirloin, but always cut off and marinated and braized as we had it yesterday. Thus you get two hot dishes; our particular sirloin has given us three. The parts of this joint vary greatly in flavour, and in texture as well, and by accentuating this variation by treatment in the kitchen, you escape that monotony which is prone to pervade the table so long as the sirloin remains in the house. Mrs. Sinclair is sufficiently experienced as a housekeeper to know that the dish of fillets we had for dinner last night was not made from the under cut of one sirloin. It was by borrowing a little from the upper part that I managed to fill the dish, and I'm sure that any one who may have got one of the uppercut fillets had no cause to grumble. The Filetto di Bue which we had for lunch to-day was the residue of the upper cut, and, admirable as is a slice of cold beef taken from this part of the joint, I think it is an excellent variation to make a hot dish of it sometimes. On the score of economy, I am sure that a sirloin treated in this fashion goes a long way further."
"The Marchesa demolishes one after another of our venerable institutions with so charming a despatch that we can scarcely grieve for them," said Sir John. "I am not philosopher enough to divine what change may come over the British character when every man sits down every day to a perfectly cooked dinner. It is sometimes said that our barbarian forefathers left their northern solitudes because they hankered after the wine and delicate meats of the south, and perhaps the modern Briton may have been led to overrun the world by the hope of finding a greater variety of diet than he gets at home. It may mean, Marchesa, that this movement of yours for the suppression of English plain cooking will mark the close of our national expansion."
"My dear Sir John, you may rest assured that your national expansion, as well as your national cookery, will continue in spite of anything we may accomplish here, and I say good luck to them both. When have I ever denied the merits of English cookery?" said the Marchesa. "Many of its dishes are unsurpassed. These islands produce materials so fine, that no art or elaboration can improve them. They are best when they are cooked quite plainly, and this is the reason why simplicity is the key-note of English cookery. A fine joint of mutton roasted to a turn, a plain fried sole with anchovy butter a broiled chop or steak or kidney, fowls or game cooked English fashion, potatoes baked in their skins and eaten with butter and salt, a rasher of Wiltshire bacon and a new- laid egg, where will you beat these? I will go so far as to say no country can produce a bourgeoises dish which can be compared with steak and kidney pudding. But the point I want to press home is that Italian cookery comes to the aid of those who cannot well afford to buy those prime qualities of meat and fish which allow of this perfectly plain treatment. It is, as I have already said, the cookery of a nation short of cash and unblessed with such excellent meat and fish and vegetables as you lucky islanders enjoy.