Thursday, September 14, 2017

The 10 rules for a proper burger

After some decades of quasi vegetarianism, the burger became a large part of my dining out life once again. And for reasons too detailed for me to go into here, the burger has even become the very centerpiece of my dining out experience. This is a great and terrible burden for the simple burger, but fortunately the burger is sturdy, and well structured, and seems to be holding up under the weight.

And so naturally enough I have come up with a strong sense of what is proper for any burger, and for the serving of burgers, in restaurants. And as is my wont I have decided these things that I believe, prefer, respect, and enjoy, occupy a state of absolute truth, a moral mandate, and a vision of inspiration. This passion, this overwhelming absorption in my own deciphering of the Universe, is the very thing that makes clerkmanifesto into the the kind of blog that very, very, very few of the people reading this post will ever read again.

And so, these are the Platonic ideals of the restaurant burger. Hear my rules and defy them at the peril of your soul.

1. The animal that the burger is made from must be grass fed.

I'm okay with murdering a perfectly nice animal like a cow. I can just begin to bear that hideous, delicious burden. But torturing said animal with unnatural feedstuffs and industrial processing makes us into monsters and puts the burden of that cow's torture onto us. When we simply murder the animal, well, that's mostly god's fault, a design flaw. But when we defy the natural order, well, then it's on us.

2. French fries must be served.

I do believe there should be a salad option. I don't mind choices for sides. And while I believe an accompaniment should be included with one's burger, because that's more gracious and beautiful, I can bear having to purchase the fries if I have to. But fries, fryer cooked, are an indication of the seriousness of a burger place. They demonstrate conviction, and a willingness to make an effort. Chips indicate slovenly laziness and a kitchen and restaurant that just can't be bothered.

3. Cheese means cheese.

The more specific the cheese the better. Montamore, for instance, trumps "cheddar". Varieties of cheeses tailored to specific burgers is good. And most of all, American Cheese is not cheese. Nevertheless its use is permitted ironically, in a throwback burger imitating, for instance, a Big Mac.

4. Fast Food burgers are not actually good.

The idea that they are good is an illusion of marketing, photography, and nostalgia. "You mean I have to pay $14 for a burger?" You ask. Yes, or even more! It's a cruel world and we are murderers.

5. Doneness is real.

There's a chart. You can find it on Wikipedia. The cook should be able to hit it with some accuracy. You should know, if you don't, everything on this chart is pinker than you'd think.

6. Fake burgers are acceptable only if you mean it from the bottom of your heart.

Sure, go ahead and put a fake burger on your menu for the less ethically impaired among us. But it has to be good! I can only say that a veggie burger is only theoretically good. In two decades of desperately trying I was never able to make or purchase one.

7. The bun should be both delicious and invisible.

I should not notice that the bun even exists. However, if I compel myself to do so, I should find it graciously light, strong, and scrumptious.

8. Respect the load bearing limit.

All burgers have a load bearing limit. No matter how dramatic and appealing it may be to exceed that limit, if the burger is not structurally sound enough for me to eat by picking it up and biting into it, it is not a successful burger.

9. Napkins are required.

I don't need a bath towel (well, maybe I do!), but either way one crumbling paper napkin is not going to cut it. This is a burger. It's going to get messy.

10. Special orders shouldn't upset you.

Different people have different needs and limitations. If you have a kitchen full of pure, delicious, and basic ingredients, and if you have a capable cook with at least a little creativity, and if you have a waitperson who is capable of professionally communicating with people, this will be easy.


  1. This can only be a flaunting of artistic licence. Really? You're eating flesh? ...with dairy even?

    1. I have always eaten dairy. Life is hard to even comprehend without the miracle of cheese. Well, actually life is hard to comprehend anyway.

      No, I deceive you not. I am a mighty cow murderer. Of course, I almost always ate fish. I will be in paris in a month or so. Perhaps I will delve into pure evil and have some foie gras?

    2. I won't be casting stones. It's just that, we'll, you've always been such an ideal.
      Hey wait. Didn't we eat a hard salami up in Yosemite?!

    3. Oh yes, salami in yosemite. Didn't we catch a tiny trout and trample it to death too. Also, in Mississippi, do you remember the venison wrapped in cheap pepperoni? Roasted on an open fire. Oh my.


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