Friday, January 09, 2009

Burger book

Despite quite liking them, I haven't given much thought to the making of hamburgers. I tend to throw in a few odds and ends and then cook them. This is probably why my hamburgers are crappy. With a non-beef eating spouse I don't get to make them that much anyway. Still, I would like to make one that I would want to eat. John T Edge has quite a few ideas on how I might do that in his Hamburger & Fries: An American Story.

While there are quite a few recipes here (one of which calls for beef tallow!,) the book is mostly about the great diversity in hamburgers found throughout the United States. There are the unfortunately named (and apparently none too tasty) slug burgers of the south, which use crackers, flour or other filler. There is the Jucy Lucy (sic) of Minneapolis*, so named because the man who first asked for one apparently said "That is a Juicy Lucy!" Then there are the loose meat sandwiches of the Mid-West. I meant to try these on my last trip across country but failed to stop at an appropriate restaurant. Now I can just make my own.

Edge loves food, but he also focuses on the people making the food. He is interested in how these different burger traditions arose and that is often the best part of his many stories. I like also that he is honest about the burgers he tried. He flat out disliked the slug burger and he thought the Jucy Lucy was interesting, but not as special as advertised. He still provides recipes for both, as your taste may differ.

Edge writes for the Oxford American and has a number of other books, including ones on Apple Pie, Donuts and Fried Chicken. I will be reading more of them. I will also be looking for burger spots on the Portland Hamburger blog. Next stop, Jim Dandy.

*Apparently there are some Jucy Lucy haters out there, have a look at this Wikipedia controversy page.


Ed Kohler said...

Jucy Lucy burgers are a delicious treat. They take concentration to eat. Lose your focus and you may feel molten cheese running down your forearm.

Tripp said...

I fear I will have to travel to Minneapolis to get the real deal. I don't think anyone around here (Portland, OR) has one.