In honor of all those Fathers out there on "your" special day. Put down those weed whackers, hammers, wrenches and any work that might be preventing you from enjoying the quiet solitude of just being "Dad". I would like to add before we dive into America's most beloved grilling food. I want to take this time to honor my father and to thank him for the exceptional care he took of me...Love You Dad, in addition ,I want to recognize my husband, and the sacrifices he makes for his sons and myself, for all the times that you never heard "We appreciate You", thanks for cutting the grass, or remembering that I like hazelnut coffee, and above all being a super Dad, We Love You.
Nothing says America like a burger or better yet a cheeseburger. Decades ago it was merely just a ground beef patty between two pieces of bread. But, now the cheeseburger has become a culinary icon, and dressing it up has become America's mission, to build the perfect burger. It is said that the hamburger, has roots in Hamburg, Germany but who knew for sure I was not there, it seems plausible. Just as the frankfurter could have originated from Frankfurt, Germany. One funny story that I can share from name origins is a speech from President John F. Kennedy in Germany. He declared his allegiance with Berlin by saying "Ich Bin ein Berliner," in fact what he really said was I am a jelly donut. So did the hamburger come from Hamburg, Germany maybe, I am just happy it made it's way here.
Culinary American history credits four men with delivering this juicy creation to America.
"Hamburger Charlie" Nagreen was really in the meatball business, but business was slow, so he flattened his meatball and put it between bread, he took his creation to the fair in Seymour, Wisconsin in 1885. Today this town hosts the largest hamburger parade and home to its annual Burger Fest.
Charles and Frank Menches's claim is that they invented the hamburger and brought it 1885 fair in Hamburg, New York. The brothers were in the sausage business but due to the demand of their sausages at the fair they ran out, and with nothing to sell they fried up some beef, seasoned it and sold it as a sandwich, when asked what it was, one of the brothers looked at the banner that said hamburg fair and said "It is a hamburger."
Fletcher Davis aka "Old Dave" from Athens, Texas ran a lunch counter where customers flocked for his beef patty that was served in his fresh out of the oven bread. It was said that customers loved it so much the townsfolk raised money to send "Old Dave" to the World's Fair in St. Louis, Missouri in 1904.
Last but not least there is Louis Lassen from New Haven, Connecticut, who owned Louis' Lunch, according to legend a gentleman came in and really needed a lunch on the go, in response to his impatience he sandwiched a broiled beef patty, and legend has it that the Library of Congress has this claim documented.
Burgers nowadays are big business and my favorite the cheeseburger is no slouch. In 1935 Louis E. Ballast attempted to trademark the name cheeseburger at his Humpty Dumpty Barrel Drive-In in Denver, Colorado. So the story goes....
A great Cheeseburger or Hamburger sadly is achieved through fat, unfortunately in the times of Atkins,South Beach, Skinny B-tch and the French woman's diet we are trying not to add fat. But alas no fat=dry burger. Best meat is chuck ground with about 25% fat. Another secret is to handle the meat as little as possible, never mix the meat too much, the less mixing the juicier the burger. Never flatten your burgers because you are flattening the fat right out of it, not to mention the juiciness.
My hats off to the pioneers who paved the way of sandwiching a great burger and the multitudes of people who introduced unique toppings to further improve an already great icon. In the words of J Wellington Wimpy of the Popeye cartoon strip "I'll gladly pay you Tuesday, for a hamburger today".
Food is our common ground, a universal experience.~ James Beard