rarer than rare within


Senior Member
Hi there,

"The blood in question belonged to a duck, seared and flambeed until its skin reached a rich golden brown, but rarer than rare within. Relieved of its breasts and legs, the bird was now being crushed inside several pounds of Christofle silver in a contraption that would be decried medieval if it weren't so elegant."

Dine macabre: The best ways to eat blood -- and why - CNN.com

I suppose "rare" means "cooked quickly." But I just find the expression a little unusual, ad hoc "rarer than rare," which is like to say "better than good." Can we say "rarer than within" instead? And with a skin of "rich golden brown," how could it be "rarer" outside than inside.


  • heypresto

    Senior Member
    English - England
    You are right, 'rare' in this context means cooked quickly, leaving the flesh pink. Here, though, it was even more undercooked, even pinker, and even rarer. So it was 'rarer than rare'.

    We use this kind of construction sometimes, and it is essentially an emphatic, and perhaps poetic, way of saying 'very'. Snow, for instance, could be 'whiter than white', or the water in a mountain stream could be 'purer than pure'.


    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    I suppose "rare" means "cooked quickly."
    Only in the sense of "not cooked for long enough". With meats (most often with steak), there is a scale of how thoroughly they are cooked, which goes: rare, medium rare, medium, medium well, and well done.
    In this case "rarer than rare within" means "almost raw on the inside", compared with "almost burnt on the outside".
    (cross posted)

    Minnesota Guy

    Senior Member
    American English - USA
    rarer than rare within: that is, on the inside (=within), it was rarer than rare.

    Yes, "rare" here means cooked quickly, so that the interior is still juicy. It only applies to meat; we don't speak of rare eggs, or rare vegetables.

    It's spelled and pronounced identically to the word "rare" = "uncommon." But rare/juicy has a Germanic origin, while rare/uncommon comes from Latin.


    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    I would caution against thinking about it as "cooked quickly". Here the outside is "golden brown", but the inside still so raw that they can squeeze the blood out. The whole bird was cooked in one piece, so the inside cannot have been cooked more quickly than the outside. It was just cooked less.


    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    The inside cooked less, and is therefore rarer than rare, because the heat was only applied to the outside. The method used (high heat with an open flame but for a relatively short time) didn't give the heat time to penetrate to the inside.
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