The Humble Cheeseburger
I'm a burger fan, a big burger fan. I could, and have done, eat them every day for a week or two (I'd like to point out that this was while on a road trip in the US. I feel that excuses me). But to be more precise, I'm a simple food fan. I like the basics, the basics done well. You know what I mean; real food, hearty food, food that fills me up. I'm not too bothered by what it looks like as long as it tastes good. You'd think the cheeseburger should fit in here quite well, yet the problem today is that it so rarely does.
I've been trying to find a great burger place in the city I live in (Copenhagen, Denmark) but I'm yet to find it. Sure, I can find some decent restaurants, but nothing that has made me go back for seconds solely based on how good it was. The best cheeseburger I've ever had in my life (so far) was at Slackers, a burger place in Page, Arizona. I had a ½ pound cheeseburger and it was so good I could have cried. Succulent, simple and incredibly tasty. If you're anywhere remotely near Page, go. Here's a picture of it. It's a thing of beauty.
Of course you can find succulent burgers in every city, you can find tasty burgers, but simple? That's where it gets tricky.
A good cheeseburger should be a good, juicy beef patty, a lightly toasted but still soft sesame bun, a slice of cheese (Swiss, American or Cheddar - nothing too powerful), a leaf or two of lettuce, pickles (you can put tomatoes in if you want, but I find they make it too wet) and finally, a dollop of ketchup (and maybe mustard). Simple and straightforward. So why is it that restaurants today seem to be more focused on what they can do with the burger rather than just making a good one?
You get cheeseburgers with fried eggs in them, or Applewood smoked cheddar and jalapenos, deep fried cheese, truffled liver parfait, caramelised onions, fois gras, and cheeseburgers that you can't eat with your hands - and what's the point of that? Is it even still a cheeseburger? A 'cheeseburger' that needs a wooden stick through the centre to keep it from falling over is not a cheeseburger. I don't want a cheeseburger than has so much filling that I have to dismantle it to eat it with a knife and fork. I don't want a cheeseburger that has mounds of various sauces inside it which dribble out all over me. I don't want a cheeseburger that has a name I can't pronounce, and I certainly don't want a cheeseburger that has a bun so crunchy I might as well suck on some razor blades.
These are not cheeseburgers. They are some twisted form of beef...cake, created in the minds of people who think the humble cheeseburger is not good enough. Don't get me wrong, I understand the need to experiment, and all those fillings/toppings/etc probably taste great, but we're missing out on is, in the simplest terms, a cheeseburger. What happened to just making the simplest thing, really, really well?