It seems when we gather; going out to consume food is one of the itineraries.
Would you like to see the menu?
My brother and his wife is coming to town and want to go out and eat grub while we catch up on a few months or so, I search the internet for places that prepare and arrange meat and cheese and veggies and bread to either place in a paper wrapper or on some fine thick white plate placed in front of the sited diner by a person making minimal wage or less in a prescribed costume with a welcoming smile hoping for a tip.
It really doesn’t matter what chain or independent or family run kitchen, a restaurant must have a menu so the drooling public can choice a selection. A menu is written to entice the patron to make the most appealing selection from a few words of description of what will arrive to them minutes later.
When you walk your family in this building, unless it is a fast-food chain that you expect familiarity, you don’t know anything about the seating, server or much less the sanitation of the kitchen. The cooking crew could be dedicated owners of the establishment or some immigrant slapping slabs of meat on a greasy grill as the orders come in.
If the food isn’t to perfection, you should go home and cook your own dinner, but that is not the point.
Going out to eat is getting away from the kitchen and the burden of feeding all the faces that pass through the front door.
So here I am looking at local dining establishments menus and thinking about the ‘National Lampoon’ magazine. I was a fan of the writing and learned to believe that poking fun at reality somehow makes it easier to coup with.
In one of the stack that I had accumulated was an edition about menus and how they vary. Having worked in advertising describing the obvious to make it look appealing, it worked for food too. Maybe I’ve watched too many Rachael Ray shows but I’m still not sold on her ingredient selections.
You and I and Uncle Henry have certain palettes learned from spitting out broccoli to always choosing chocolate pie, cake or cookies until you don’t like the taste. How will the fellas back in the steamy kitchen be able to match your acquired gustatory perception of flavor?
So what about the hamburger?
No matter what you call it or describe it or disguise it or tantalize it, a hamburger is a grounded up pieced of dead animal muscle and fat colorized, homogenized or otherwise presented to the public as a ‘patty’. The thrill of grilling would have little impact without the ‘hamburger’.
I’ve placed my share of this slimy woven red stuff on a grill or hibachi or frying pan until it sizzles (there is something in the smell and sound that must stimulate) and was a chef at ‘flipping the burgers’. I even tried the veggie burgers when my wife went vegan but they just didn’t have the real stuff to hold together with the grease dripping on the charcoals sparking those fireworks of dead animal.
So how do you write a menu? How do you entice a reader to sit at your tables and taste the experience they were expecting from the written word? The same could be said for the news media?
Now the hamburger could be anything from a cow or bull to a muskrat because it has been grounded into an indescribable mush. The method of cooking can vary but it must become hard enough (burnt) to sit on a bun or plate without becoming soup.
A hamburger, beef-burger or burger is a sandwich consisting of one or more cooked patties of ground meat; usually beef, placed inside a sliced bread roll or bun. The patty may be pan-fried, barbecued, or flame broiled. Hamburgers are often served with cheese, lettuce, tomato, bacon, onion, pickles, or chilies; condiments such as mustard, mayonnaise, ketchup, relish, or “special sauce”; and are frequently placed on sesame seed buns. A hamburger topped with cheese is called a cheeseburger.
Most of us are used to be a Styrofoam dish with a lump of pink stuff heat sealed in plastic stating ‘this is hamburger’. Pay the price by the pound, shove it in the freezer, and wait until the weekend’s backyard party.
But if you read the menu there is an expectation of a wonderful huge mound of perfectly grilled meat stacked on a perfectly baked bun slathered in a yellow vinegar sauce and a tomato based sauce and a sliced root and some sort of leafy greens with perhaps a sweet or sour cucumber covered by melted derivate from milk. Hot dogs are similar but not the same.
So how can the menu from Washington DC or Austin Texas or Seattle Washington or Berlin Germany define the slab of burnt meat on a bun a hamburger? Creative advertising copywriters can make that bland sandwich into a masterpiece of culinary wonder.
Each Quarter Pounder, with Cheese features a 1/4 lb. of 100% fresh beef that’s cooked when you order to be hotter and juicier, with just a pinch of salt and pepper and sizzled on our flat iron grill. Layered with two slices of melted American cheese, slivered onions and tangy pickles on a sesame seed bun • 1/3 lb. charbroiled 100% Black Angus beef patties, 4 strips of bacon, 3 slices of American cheese and mayonnaise, now served on a Fresh Baked Bun • Our WHOPPER Sandwich is a 1/4 lb of savory flame-grilled beef topped with juicy tomatoes, fresh lettuce, creamy mayonnaise, ketchup, crunchy pickles, and sliced white onions on a soft sesame seed bun • Each one of our burgers is formed from a proprietary blend of chuck & top round sirloin and absolutely the most delicious in Richmond. Our lean 85/15 Certified Angus Beef burgers are hand ground and hand formed into 1/3 lb patties from ‘FRESH, NEVER FROZEN’ meat sourced exclusively from Schweid & Sons • The House Ground “Barnyard” Burger: Pig bacon / sunny side up chicken egg / farmhouse cow cheddar / creamy Mac-n-cheese / duck foie gras emulsion • The Elvis Burger topped with peanut butter, mayo, Applewood smoked bacon and cheese.
I decided to cancel the reservation because who knows when people will arrive or how hungry they are or if they have a taste for something else. After a long drive they might not want a burger but maybe something lite or maybe just order in a pizza?