Sunday, 11 September 2016
A very good friend of mine is obsessed by burgers. Whenever we go to a restaurant it’s the first thing he looks out for. Whether it be topped with cheese, bacon, avocado, even pineapple, he can think of nothing better than sinking his gnashers into a patty of ground beef sandwiched between two buns. These days he’s not spoilt for choice with every joint offering a ‘signature’ take on this American classic. Burgers are now as much of a staple on the British menu as ham, egg and chips, steak and ale pie and fish and chips.
Now it seems you can have it any way you want it: with the bun, without the bun, slathered in special mustard, complemented by rosemary-salted fries or topped with a birdseye potato waffle and a fried egg… it’s insane. As Five Guys, Byron and Gourmet Burger Kitchen battle it out on every identikit high-street (sadly becoming the norm in suburbia), hipsters in London’s more fashionable, eastern districts are flipping minced-meat discs in uber-cool, customised vans. They use esoteric ingredients, making baps from ramen noodles, wasabi mayonnaise, kimchi… the mind-boggles when you see some of the creations.
Then you have the Buzzfeed community, faithfully documenting some of the groaning, gargantuan burgers under such monikers as ‘the most ridiculous…’, ‘you ain’t had a burger, until you’ve had…’, ‘This burger will make you want a burger now!’. These beasts have more in common with modern sculpture than they do with food. Often these towering infernos are balanced precariously, supported with a skewer just long enough for some beatnik or other to snap it and upload it to Instagram before it topples under the shear weight of onion rings, beetroot, bacon chops, smoked eggs and Domestos-brined pickles! (I kid!).
Goodness, I’ve got burger ennui just listing the above. It’s all got a little bit silly hasn’t it? Let’s go back to basics, back to reality. Let’s cast-off these over-complicated - and often badly cooked - pretenders to the burger throne and opt for the reliable, the decadent and the downright vulgar…
It was with great relish, last Friday, that I tucked into a McDonalds Quarter Pounder with cheese. I’m almost ashamed to admit that, after polishing off the first, I went straight back in for a second.
What I love about McDonalds burgers is that there is no pretension, no delusions of grandeur, just a nice thin patty (all burgers should be thin), topped with cheese, pickle, raw onion, ketchup and mustard. All served between two sugary slices of bun, it’s the perfect balance of sweet and savoury and I would take it any day over some of the ostentatious, over-sized examples you see on menus up and down the land. Let’s not gentrify the humble burger any further.
I’m not talking about quality, I’m talking about tastiness. Whatever you think of McDonalds and its practices, I don’t think you can seriously level a case against how instantly tasty their burgers are, and how guilty/dirty you feel after you’ve had one; as if you had broken a social taboo in eating it! For me that’s how a burger should be eaten and then remembered post-meal!
So I say this, take your piss-pretentious burger away from my plate! Give me my Quarter Pounder with cheese any day.