Or, requiem for the hot dog.
by Victorino Matus
Somehow I’d forgotten that summer isn’t truffle season, which made my recent visit to DB Bistro Moderne in midtown Manhattan almost pointless. After all, why order the DB burger stuffed with foie gras and braised short ribs marinated in red wine if I can’t also get my fresh shavings of black Péri- gord truffle? (That a preserved truffle is blended into the meat is beside the point.)
This might sound excessive, but the DB is still a magnificent creation. The flavor combination of the sirloin and short ribs is divine–even without the fresh black truffle. Its inventor, the French chef Daniel Boulud, describes the DB, which weighs nine ounces and is four inches tall, as a “burger for grown-ups.” Boulud had the idea for “a fancy French-American burger” in late 2000, and to this day, out of 100 lunchtime customers at DB Bistro Moderne, roughly 80 will order the $32 indulgence. (When in season, a roughly $150 version is available, with a double portion of black truffle shavings.)
“For me it was not about creating decadence,” insists the celebrity chef. “It was more about creating a real complex and interesting burger.”
But is it even a burger? Not so, says Marc Sherry, proprietor of the Old Homestead Steakhouse in lower Manhattan’s meat-packing district. “It’s a good product–a very damn good product–but it’s not what America is looking for in a burger.” Two years after Boulud’s creation debuted, the Old Homestead, which was the first American restaurant to feature Japanese Kobe beef on its menu, announced it would be selling its own hamburger for the first time in its 140-year history: the $41 Kobe burger.
To create the most complete and definitive source of information about the past and present of Burgers.
In the movie Pulp Fiction, the two assassins played by John Travolta and Samuel L Jackson discuss with amusement the titles given to their beloved burgers in Europe. For instance they marvel that a quarter pounder is known as a “Royale with cheese.” Samuel L Jackson’s character gives a highly amusing speech to his soon-to-be victims (tucking into burgers before they are blown away) about the burger being a “cornerstone of any nutritious breakfast.”
Rice burgers, mentioned above, are also available in several East Asian countries such as Taiwan and South Korea. Lotteria is a big hamburger franchise in Japan owned by the South Korean Lotte group, with outlets also in China, South Korea, Vietnam, and Taiwan. In addition to selling beef hamburgers, they also have hamburgers made from squid, pork, tofu, and shrimp. Variations available in Korea include bulgogi burgers and kimchi burgers.
Australia & New Zealand:
Fast food franchises sell American style fast food hamburgers in both Australia and New Zealand. The traditional Australasian hamburger almost always includes tomato, lettuce, grilled onion, beetroot (canned slices), and meat as minimum, and can optionally include cheese, a fried egg (usually with a hard yolk), bacon, and a grilled pineapple ring. The only condiments regularly used are tomato sauce, which is similar to ketchup but has less vinegar and more sugar, or BBQ sauce. Hamburgers in Australia and New Zealand tend to be less oily and fatty than their US counterparts, and are more likely to include a full salad if available. The McDonalds “McOz” Burger is partway between American and Australian style burgers, having beetroot and tomato in an otherwise typical American burger.
Likewise McDonalds in New Zealand created a Kiwiburger which is similar to a Quarter Pounder, but features salad, beetroot and a fried egg. The Hungry Jack’s (Burger King) “Aussie Burger” has tomato, lettuce, onion, cheese, bacon, beetroot, egg, ketchup and a meat patty. As with many issues between the two countries there is much debate over whether this burger (with beetroot being the defining factor) is, in fact, an Australian or a New Zealand creation, but the answer remains unclear.
Hamburger meat is almost always ground beef. Outside of fast food restaurants, “home made” style burgers, generally known in Australia as a ‘hamburger with the lot‘ (if they have “the lot” on them) are usually bought from fish and chip shops.
Hamburgers in the UK are very similar to their U.S. cousins, and the high-street is dominated by the same big two chains as in the U.S.—McDonald’s and Burger King. The menus offered to both countries are virtually identical, although portion sizes tend to be smaller in the UK.
An original and indigenous rival to the big two U.S. giants was the quintessentially British fast-food chain Wimpy, originally known as Wimpy Bar, which served its burgers or cheeseburgers with British-style chips, served on a plate accompanied by flatware and delivered to the customer’s table. Wimpy began to die out in the late 1980’s, disappearing from most UK high-streets. However, it persists in some town centers and particularly at motorway service stations, resembling much more the U.S. style system of counter-service.
Hamburgers are also available from mobile kiosks, particularly at outdoor events such as football matches. Burgers from this type of outlet are usually served without any form of salad – only fried onions and a choice of tomato ketchup or brown sauce.
Chip shops, particularly in the West Midlands, North-East and Scotland, serve battered hamburgers (along with many other battered food items). This is where the burger patty, by itself, is deep-fat-fried in batter and served with chips, but no bun.
Hamburgers and veggie burgers, usually of a better quality, served with chips and salad, are now standard pub grub menu items. Indeed, many pubs specialize in “gourmet” burgers. These are usually high quality minced steak patties, topped with items such as blue cheese, brie, avocado et cetera. Another variant is the curry burger, which seasons the meat with curry to provide a spicier alternative.
Many British pubs are also notable for their extreme fondness for burger patties made from more exotic meats – common examples include venison burgers (sometimes nicknamed Bambi Burgers), bison burgers, ostrich burgers and in some Australian themed pubs even kangaroo burgers can be purchased. All of these hamburgers are served in a similar way to the traditional hamburger but may come with a different condiment, redcurrant sauce, mint sauce and plum sauce being common examples.
Says Tom Racosky, founder of the fledgling Big Buns Gourmet Grill in Arlington, Virginia. “Not to be morbid, but it’s the number one meal [of death row inmates] eaten as their last meal before execution, a hamburger and fries.“