Free Refills & Why I Love America Rotating Header Image

March 18th, 2010:

Three ways hamburgers are like America [guest post]

Best Burger NeonHamburgers are perhaps the most American of foods.  They combine cheap meat with a bun made from subsidized grain and can often be bought for very little money. Thanks to the good folks at McDonald’s, they can be had pretty much anywhere you’d want to go in the world too.

Now being an American, I like burgers as much as the next guy. But my friend Max loves hamburgers and he eats a lot of them—usually plane. If you ask Max, he will tell you that adding cheese, mayo or whatnot to a burger just detracts from its burgerness.

Max likes burgers so much so that he has started a blog, appropriately titled “The Burger Blog,” chronicling his search for the best burger in Metro Detroit. It is a great read.

The other day I asked Max if he’d be willing to write a guest post talking about the Americanness of burgers for the blog. Here is what he has to say:

Cow, ground up, passed over a grill, then placed on baked processed flour doesn’t sound like the most appetizing meal.  But every red blooded American who has eaten a hamburger knows the tasty joys they entail.  That incredible, unique flavor is what motivated me start a blog dedicated to hamburgers. As I was thinking about it, I realized that three of the things that make the Hamburger such a great food are also things that make America a great country.  Here’s the list:

1. MAKING THE BEST FROM THE REST: Who exactly took the old Hamburg Steak and turned it into the modern hamburger is disputed, but in every telling it’s a familiar American story.  The best ideas from the rest of the world came to America, where they were synthesized into something new, then perfected.  This also happened with punk rock (the Ramones, in the 70’s), representative democracy (James Madison, in the 1770’s), and Free Refills readers (your parents, about 9 months before you were born).

2. INFINITE VARIETY, INFINITE CHOICE:  The American experience can be whatever you want it to be.  The same can be said for hamburgers.  The only limitation on your hamburger is your own imagination.  Haven’t you ever had a hamburger with maple syrup?  You don’t know what you’re missing!  (I can tell you: not much).

3. GOOD STUFF NOW, CONSEQUENCES LATER: Your ‘doctor’ will try to convince you that burgers are high in ‘cholesterol.’ He’ll tell you that if you keep eating them, you’ll ‘die.’  But this is America, the land of the subprime mortgage.  Why should the possibility of future unhealth stop you from enjoying present tastiness?  The fact is they’ll have a cure for high cholesterol before it affects you, and if they don’t, well, what’s the likelihood that it was one extra burger that did you in?

So next time you sink your teeth into a half pound of ground round on an enriched flour bun, remember, you’re not just eating a hamburger, you’re eating America!

#26. Green Beer

Green BeerNow that you’re all sobered up, let’s talk about Green Beer.

I’m not sure who first invented Green Beer (Budweiser + food dye), but it’s probably safe to assume he wasn’t Irish—or even Irish-American. And that is fine and dandy, because St. Patrick’s Day isn’t about Ireland or Irishness anymore. It is an American Holiday to celebrate drinking.

There is nothing wrong with this. Rather it is just another great example of the American ability to absorb a foreign culture and develop a new, better, Americanized version of it.

Most often we do this with food. When the Italians came to America they brought their pizza. Trouble was it was thin, crispy and not very filling. We took that and invented Deep-Dish, Delivery and the $5 Hot-N-Ready.  We took the general idea of Chinese food and invented Stir Fry, General Tso’s and Almond Boneless Chicken—not to mention fortune cookies and those cute white carryout containers.

With the Irish, we just took a holiday. Lacking a proper drinking holiday ourselves, we simply took the Patron Saint of Ireland’s day and distilled it down to the core of any good holiday: drinking and merriment.* The new American version is far superior to Irish version, as there is no church or national remembrance component, only parades, drinking and the marketing of beer.

Which of course brings us back to Green Beer—I’m not sure who invented it. But anything this gimmicky could only have been dreamt up by a great American.

America go Brách!

*I’ve never understood why people bother with fasting holidays.

Related Posts with Thumbnails