The Great Hamburger debate: where do you stand?

My timeline on twitter today has been more interesting than most days because I have been involved in a discussion with some jibberers (they know who they are and I use that term as a positive) about firstly what makes a BBQ and then secondly what are the essentials of a good hamburger.

The second issue, or the “Great Hamburger debate” as I have termed it, is a debate that has gone on, I have no doubt, since the beginning of time … or at least since someone (however that someone is) became the first person to place a meat patty between two pieces of bread with some condiments and ate it.

As a person whose mid section has undoubtedly benefited from a hamburger or 100 over time, I am surprised that I have not written about this topic already so with this post I will make up for the travesty of not having written about this issue sooner.

Before we get into the nitty gritty around the “Great Hamburger debate” there needs to be some very clear ground rules for the debate. They are:

1. Under no circumstances am I talking about a burger procured from McDonalds, Hungry Jacks, Burger King or any other self styled American “Hamburger Joint”. They are in a category all of their own which might become the topic of a following post.

2. A hamburger is not a steak burger or a chicken burger nor does it have on it ham as the name would suggest.

3. A hamburger is only delivered to you wrapped in a white paper wrapping or some such equivalent. A hamburger that is brought to you on a plate, is left open or that is served on a focaccia is an imposter for the purposes of the debate.

4. The hamburger patty needs to be of the style of a rissole made with minced beef and not something pre-processed and thawed from the supermarket.

Those parameters set it must be obvious to even the most casual reader that what I am talking about here is a hamburger that one would purchase from a local fish and chip shop or takeaway store or, in utopia, that one would take part in putting together at or around a hot BBQ plate in ones backyard.

Now if you have read this far I have no doubt you wondering: “how do I get the last 5 minutes of my life back after reading this dross?” but to that I challenge you to tell me that you are someone who has never had a discussion with a family member, friend, colleague, acquaintance or fellow customer about the contents of the perfect burger. If you have not had such a discussion then I, on the one hand, release you from reading further and, on the other hand, am sorry for you because you have missed out.

However if you have then you have already been part of the “Great Hamburger debate” … you just probably did not realise it!

Equally the question must be asked as to why is there even a debate: we are just talking about a piece of meat between two pieces of bread right? That is where most go wrong because the perfect hamburger is just as much about the condiments that are incorporated with the burger and this is where the bulk of the debate arises.

These are some of the usual issues that arise in any debate about the perfect hamburger:

1. Do you prefer tomato sauce or BBQ sauce?
2. Do you like beetroot on your burger or not?
3. For Australian readers, do you like pineapple on your burger?
4. Do you prefer your hamburger bun to be toasted?
5. Is the egg on your burger to be runny?
6. If you add bacon to your burger is it still a hamburger?

I can only answer those questions for myself and it is here that the principal point to this blog arises (thank goodness I hear you exclaim). The beauty of the perfect hamburger and, indeed, this whole debate is that whether a hamburger is perfect or not is solely the domain of individual taste. Much like some of the other (some would say very Australian) debates that rage around a BBQ hotplate, like Holden v Ford (Holden) and who was Australia’s best cricket captain (Waugh S), positions of the combatants to this debate are so entrenched that you will never change anyone’s view to your own but it sure is fun having the discussion.

So for the record here are the ingredients to my perfect hamburger:

Lightly toasted (no more than 30 seconds on the BBQ plate) plain white bread roll
Fried Onion
Egg (runny)
BBQ sauce

That to me is the perfect burger. Now I know that many will be pondering:

1. Where is the tomato?
2. Where is the pineapple?
3. Where is the beetroot?

The answer to those questions is simple: I don’t like them and I believe they overpower the taste of the burger so I do not have them on my burger. My views here have long been tested by family members, partners, friends and people in the hamburger shop who have heard me order a “Burger with the lot … no tomato, no beetroot and no pineapple” and I will never be moved from the fact that the foregoing is what I consider to be the perfect burger. And , that is where the fun of this debate has its nexus it is all about your personal choice!

So there it is: my 1000 odd words about the “Great Hamburger debate” … what do you think and what is your “perfect burger”? Indeed, as the title to this post posits: where do you stand?

Postscript: A big thank you to these fellow debaters from twitter for getting the creative juices flowing and making me hungry today: @RandomHammer @roysundborg and @franks_andbeans … get around them.

2 responses

  1. Rissole
    Very very slightly toasted bun. More warmed than toasted
    BBQ Sauce
    Egg – Not hard but not flowing. On the harder side of runny

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