Friday, February 6, 2009

La Inquisición de Hamburguesa

Cheeseburgers have mistreated for years.

Ok, you’re probably thinking meat, cheese, bun…not really sure how to abuse those. A Cheeseburger is a quintessential aspect of American food culture, and rightfully so. It is simple to make, filling, and highly caloric, providing everyone from the blue collar worker to the white shoe executive a fulfilling and cost effective hand held meal. But lately, I have been saddened by the wave of gourmet burger that use arugula instead of lettuce, gruyere instead of cheddar, and caramelized onions instead of ketchup!

Cheeseburgers originated from hamburgers, which go as far back as the 11th Century when the Mongols carried flat patties of meat with them on long horseback trips. The actual hamburger bun is said to be invented in 1916 by Walter Anderson, a short-order cook and founder of White Castle. One claim of inventing the actual hamburger sandwich comes from Charlie Nagreen of Seymour, Wisconsin, U.S., who tried selling fried meatballs at a county fair, but customers found them hard to eat while walking around the fair, so Nagreen flattened it and made it into a sandwich he called the “hamburger”. Hamburg, New York, U.S. also claims credit for the invention of the hamburger at its Erie County Fair in 1885 by the Menches brothers. Similar claims are made from almost every US state.

What is known is that the first official Cheeseburger was either created between by a chef named Lionel Sternberger in Pasadena, California, USA who supposedly passed a homeless man who suggested he add a slice of cheese to his hamburger order, or by Louisville, Kentucky-based Kaelin’s Restaurant, which claims to invent the Cheeseburger in 1934.

In any case, the Cheeseburger has been around for a long time. The option of having meat, dairy, and bread in one simple creation satisfies our most primal nutritional needs. If fried chicken was originated out of thrift and convenience and delicious taste, the popularity of Cheeseburger couldn’t be too different.

But then something happened. People started getting testy. The “regular” didn’t satisfy them anymore. The population needed something to distinguish class from class, person from person. Texas doused barbecue sauce all over the burger. California implanted avocados into our poor Cheeseburger. Soon the whole world was a mad scientist, experimenting on a voiceless subject with no regard for its soul, all for the absurd need to bring distinction to an already universally loved food product.

For years, people of the world have dressed the Cheeseburger up and down, added and subtracted ingredients, offered different gimmicks and toys to get the consumer to want and appreciate it.

But has anyone asked what the Cheeseburger wants?

Well no more! I am here to stand up for the rights of the Cheeseburger. Stop dressing it up in fancy cheeses and over-conceptualized sauces. No more will Cheeseburger Everyman be a guinea pig to the culinary whims of an ambitious chef or bored stay at home mom. Cheeseburgers didn’t make Ronald McDonald an international icon by being pretentious and overdressed. Nay, I say, learn ye how to create this delicious and universally beloved dish in the time honored tradition it was meant to be made. Stop distracting me with chipotle mayos and Cheddar-Jack-Munster hybrids that mask the demon within – bad burger making skills. If you can’t get the fundamentals of a burger right, you shouldn’t be near the bun. Give us meat, cheese, a toasted bun and maybe ketchup and mustard, or give me death.

-The UE


D Feltsman said...

Burger, blue cheese/cheddar, bacon, medium rare = orgasm.


wild cowgirl said...

love love love your new banner!

rif said...

This is all I have to say about the best burger I have EVER eaten… check out the website, and wait for the burger slide to come through…

HM said...

I disagree completely. This post starts by arguing that the "cheese burger" has been abused my silly californians who (amongst others) added avocado to a "classic" dish. At the same time the post takes us through the history of the cheese burger. If the article is correct then the cheese burger is no cheese burger at all. It was merely a hamburger until someone "abused" it by adding some cheese. So I say, keep on abusing the hamburger, meat patty, meat between buns or whatever you want. Innovation is the mother of many a good thing including as we have read here, the lauded cheese burger.

viridiansun said...

you know i do turkey burgers...but um, HM has a point.