Have you ever craved a burger, (and immediately I apologize to all you vegetarians out there), walked into a restaurant, one who claims to have the ‘world’s best burger’, ordered, with all the trimmings of course, salivated for twenty odd minutes while they cook it, pondering it’s magnificence, dreaming of that juicy patty, served piping hot on a plate covered in greatness, and then, be incredibly disappointed after taking that first bite? It’s happened to me many times, so many in fact, I decided to start a log of all the places I’d eaten a burger in the past five years, some good, other’s mostly average or bad, and then begin my real search, a search for the holy grail, the world’s ultimate burger. I’ve watched all the shows, the Food Network is filled with wannabe star presenters blaspheming over one type of food or another, most of them so filled up with their own snobbery, it’s sickening. But, we can tune in to people like Guy Fieri, a seemingly down to earth funny and honest foodie, looking for places that are appealing to all normal people, like you and I for instance! I love his enthusiasm, his humor and his search for ‘hole in the wall’ restaurants that provide home cooking with passion and desire. Hence my burger quest, inspired by Guy and his ability to taste the goodness in other people’s passion, and their ability to be good cooks, rather than great chefs.
My own fascination with burgers started a long time ago in a restaurant called McDonalds. Yes, you read that correctly. I was in the USA for my 13th birthday, visiting my father’s sister who lived in LA. We spent three weeks touring LA and San Francisco, (quite ironic that I live here now!) and I got to tase my very first cheeseburger at this incredible place, and I use that term very loosely, called McDonalds. In 1972, that was THE place to meet, greet and eat. Hard to believe we are discussing the very same place that has, over the past 40 years, taken all the credit for nothing other than a bad rap in becoming one of the main culprits in our obesity issues all over the planet. Anyway, I remember clearly ordering a Big Mac, and that delicious melting mixture sliding effortlessly down my hungry throat into my then uninfected stomach. It changed my world, it opened my eyes, it did nothing for my waist line and it was absolutely the best cheeseburger I’d ever eaten, only because it was the very first one I’d ever consumed. I asked my father to get me another, and he refused, but my aunt complied and the second one was just as good! That led to three weeks of eating cheeseburgers whenever possible, other than one night in San Fran when my parents dumped all three kids, my two sisters and I, in a motel room with a bucket of fried chicken from a place called Zimms. Ahhhhhh, fried chicken!!! And a new love began, but I digress, we should stick with cheeseburgers.
When I returned to Scotland, it was four more frustrating years before my hankering for the world’s greatest food got it’s chance to be reunited with my seemingly insatiable requirement to dine on cheeseburgers forever more. As a side story, I met a man called Shep Messing, in Dallas, around 1993, he used to keep goal for the US national soccer team, and he claimed to eat cheeseburgers for breakfast, lunch and dinner, every day! I actually got to witness his obsession in person for three days, though I never ever got to see his cholesterol count! In Scotland we never had McDonalds, the first one didn’t open until the mid to end of the 1980’s, but we did have some casual and affordable dining establishments dotted around Glasgow, a city not known for it’s culinary prowess at that particular time, although it is now, and these restaurants were quite capable of venturing aimlessly into the world of very simple American cuisine. We would hunt them out, my friends and I, and I would guzzle down burger after burger, sometimes three in one night, so I could satisfy my appetite and my unending craving. When I moved to London, things got easier, and I could eat anywhere I wanted, safe in the knowledge that cheeseburgers were hard to screw up and a lot easier to gobble down. It was there, in the early 1980’s that my quest began, a quest that is still as intriguing today as it was way back then. My passion to find the perfect burger knows no boundaries, it finds no barriers and it is a hobby I will take to my grave, which I hope, even with all the remains of all these burgers floating around aimlessly in my colon, will be a long time from now.
Sadly, I remember just about every burger I have ever eaten. I remember the overcooked, the undercooked, the ugly, the beautiful, the large, the small and I will remember forever that one burger in Banff Canada, that hands down, beat every other burger I have ever consumed. Mmmmmmm, delicious, and oh so unexpected. But, we can get to more of that in blogs that will follow. I am not here to suggest in any way shape or form that burgers are good for you, nor do I suggest that you, my readers should even dream of eating as many burgers as I have in my 53 years on the planet, but, and it’s a huge but, I know you have all partaken of good and bad burgers over your lifetimes, so let’s hear it. Shout it out and let me know the best and worst of your dining experiences that relate to burgers only. Where was the best, the worst, and the mediocre and have you, yourself, managed to create a burger that I would be proud to sample, and blog about? Let me know. The next install ment of this blog will expand into names, dates and places and what restaurants to frequent and which ones to give a wide body swerve at the front door, regardless of how hungry you might be. Until then, write me back, come on, you know you want to!