How Well-Cooked Are You?

A juicy new scale for categorizing our personalities


Amy Chen

A human’s brain replaced with steak, illustrated by the author.

Most casual browsers of the Internet have turned to a multitude of self-report questionnaires in order to evaluate their own psychology, including quizzes regarding one’s Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), Empathy Quotient (EQ), Dungeons & Dragons Alignment, Harry Potter House and Dante’s Circles of Hell placement.

Now, I offer one more scale for the measurement of character: a measure that compares an individual’s personality to the degree to which a steak is cooked.

The five common gradations include rare, medium rare, medium, medium well and well-done. Rare steaks are cooked at a high temperature very quickly, so that the outside is charred but the inside is still raw. Well-done steaks are cooked at a high temperature very slowly, so that both the outside and inside are fully cooked, though the outside is practically burnt. The other levels are ordered between these two extremes.

I believe that we can also use this system to categorize people—metaphorically, of course—and assess individual personalities.

Rare humans, like their steak counterparts, have a raw center. They are led by pure, uninhibited emotion, full of kindness and selflessness, but unfortunately lack a firm, practical exterior. Because such humans lack accurate judgment and reasoning, their optimistic ideas are often hard to chew, as their philosophies are usually unrealistic. 

I have yet to find a real human being who does not act in self-interest, but Pokémon’s Ash Ketchum provides an example of a rare, while fictional, human. Consistently throughout the Pokémon franchise, Ash rarely thinks before acting to protect others, once throwing himself between Mew and Mewtwo’s deathly attacks to stop them from further harming themselves and other Pokémon present. Since humans are more easily hurt than Pokémon, this action—though virtuous—seems foolish and shows the rare Ash’s soft outer sear.

Taking after their rare companions, due to their tender core, medium rare humans tend to follow their hearts rather than their minds. However, unlike rare humans, medium rare humans have a rational outer crust and hold onto, though sometimes still idealist, more practical beliefs. Unlike those labeled as rare, defined by their pure and altruistic beliefs, medium rares are much more common, and present a variety of dispositions and beliefs.

Rare humans, like their steak counterparts, have a raw center. They are led by pure, uninhibited emotion, full of kindness and selflessness, but unfortunately lack a firm, practical exterior.

Therefore, it would be time-consuming to discuss specific examples of medium rares, but I personally believe that most liberals are excellent representations of the medium rare category, as they advocate for a more idyllic world through complex and seemingly pragmatic methods.

In the middle of the steak doneness scale sits the mediums. Their slightly raw center, less fiery than that of the rares and medium rares, balanced with their gray edges, less hardened than that of the medium wells and well-dones, seem the perfect combination for steaks. In humans too, the ideal is for one to have emotion and reason perfectly balanced when tackling issues.

While many philosophers, including Aristotle, Thanos and others have discussed and supported this balance, I have yet to see someone practice and maintain it. I have no doubt that there are people who have mastered it for a given time, but to consider both emotion and reason when dealing with one crisis is one thing; holding to it when faced with other crises is another. I am not sure if the human race will ever perfect this balance, but it is something for optimists to look forward to.

Medium well humans, near the far end of the scale, tend to follow their minds rather than their hearts, their category’s definition a clear opposite of the medium rares’. However, the center of their being is not completely dark, as a well-done’s would be, but instead the faintest of pink, resembling a—however small—capacity for emotion. They hold reason-based beliefs and offer realistic, logical approaches to problems, but still consider the sentiments of others when imposing their ideas on others. 

Like medium rares, medium wells are quite common, so I will refrain from listing specific examples and their backgrounds, but I see medium wells in conservative populations. They provide what they believe are sensible solutions to current issues, based on past successes of such designs, but mostly yield when a static plan of theirs begins to harm others.

While it depends on the marbling, well-done steaks notably remain the least popular of steaks. Therefore, it seems only appropriate for well-done humans to remain the least popular of people. The center of a well-done human is stiff and gray, representing their utter lack of emotion and sentiment for others. 

We can only grill while blindfolded, hoping the fire of our consciences takes us where we need to go.

Ironically, following the model I have provided in this essay, well-done humans should be the most sensible and rational beings. However, due to absence of emotion, they deviate from this scale that I have constructed based on levels of emotion and reason, since a well-done’s lack of empathy for others often renders their actions irrational and unjustifiable. 

Sadly, whereas humanity has not yet seen the kindness of a true rare, humanity has seen the cruelty of a true well-done. I think it’s devastating how time and time again we’ve been forced to choke on the bitterness of well-done “ideals”—most notoriously those of authoritarian leaders and psychopathic perpetrators—which have gone down our throats like gristly rubber. Just like I hope to avoid the taste of a well-done steak, I hope to avoid any engagement with a well-done human.

I understand that ranking humans by levels of steak doneness is bizarre, but I believe the levels to be suitable metaphors for an individual’s psychology. Most of the human race lies somewhere between the two extremes of raw and well-done and seek to be a medium. When faced with new scenarios and problems, we constantly fumble with the flesh of our mentalities, either broiling it for too long or too little, leaving us with either a lack of emotion or a lack of reason.

To our credit though, what example can we follow? If there is no true medium, where is the limit? We can only grill while blindfolded, hoping the fire of our consciences takes us where we need to go.