For North Americans, hamburgers represent iconic fast food in its multitude of guises advertised constantly. You can even buy a hamburger pre-cooked, while you are in the drive-through, and eat while driving.
There are actually two categories of hamburgers – fast food and restaurant. McDonald’s, Wendy’s, and Burger King- the biggest in the industry popularized the fast food version worldwide. Their product is the most consistent; they have thousands of franchisees, who must adhere to company standards and manuals literally.
Company paid quality inspectors evaluate all franchisees at least one every six months and enforce standards which may not have been implemented fully.
All head office employees know and believe that North Americans appreciate consistency of a product.
Many, if not all, fast food hamburgers are made to a formula by large meat packers, frozen, and delivered to outlets.
By definition, a hamburger is a patty of ground meat (generally beef) served in a wheat bun.
All fast food hamburgers are cooked well done. This is due to the insistence of health authorities in an attempt to prevent food borne illnesses.
Shredded lettuce (generally iceberg, a tasteless lettuce) sliced tomatoes; onions, pickles, mustard, ketchup and/or cheese are standard condiments.
The hamburger originated in the U.S.A and has nothing to do with the city of Hamburg in northern Germany.
Documents in the Library of Congress of the U.S.A credit Louis Lassen of Louis Lunch in New Haven, Connecticut for selling the first hamburger in 1895.
How it was served we do not know, but the true hamburger is pure ground beef mixed with salt and pepper and spices.
Over time, cooks added eggs, ground liver, bread crumbs, binders and many others stretchers.
Upscale restaurants serve hamburgers made in-house and some even buy carcasses, butcher them and then grind the meat with an appropriate amount of fat (approximately 20 per cent, then season it and generally grill it to order, medium-well done. Sometimes a sauce may be served pr French fries with garnish. Garnishes come in a wide array including bacon, avocado guacamole, sautéed mushrooms, fried or scrambled egg, feta, blue cheese, Heinz 57, pineapple, ancho chilli, tartar sauce, onion rings, or potato chips.
In some locales, turkey, vegetable, beefalo, venison, tofu, seafood or limburgers are served to suit the taste of the population.
A fine hamburger is a delightful, but often fast food versions fail to meet even low taste criteria because more often than not they are precooked and kept warm.
Food that is waiting for the consumers usually loses flavour and texture. It is imperative that the consumer waits for the food to be cooked. This is a universal rule and applies to all food except soups, some sauces, stews, and roasts.
For most North Americans, a detour of several kilometres to go to their favourite hamburger outlet is normal and part oft the experience, much like going to a destination restaurant to enjoy an exquisite poached salmon or grilled lobster.
In the United Kingdom, Wimpy’s started serving cooked-to-order hamburgers on plates, but a few years they had to drop the idea. Customers felt wait times were too long. Now, Wimpy’s serves hamburger North American style – fast.
In the United Kingdom and other English speaking countries i.e Australia, New Zealand, and Canada, kangaroo, ostrich, venison or organic hamburgers are available and popular.
In India, hamburgers are made of lamb or mutton; in the Middle East either lamb or beef is used.
Japan and China are expanding markets for North American style hamburgers mostly franchised by McDonald./s, Wendy’s, or Burger King.
Of late, some restaurants started offering Angus beef hamburgers that taste better.
In Canada, hamburger chains do a thriving business, especially with toddlers, teen-agers, and young adults because of successful and costly marketing strategies employed by multinational fast food companies.
In Toronto, some pubs and small oepratio0ns specialize in hamburgers and attract sufficient demand by consumers who look for taste, service, and appealing surroundings.
The following are recommended Bamburger, Burger Bar, BQM Burger Shoppe, Dizzy on Yonge, Bymark, Craft Burger, Gourmet Burger Co, Hero Certified Burgers.
One restaurant serves hamburgers with foie gras d’oie, another with aioli truffle oil, and yet another with slices of Brie de Maux.
All are succulent, cooked to order and served plated. You can even specify lamb or beef, but you have to be prepared to pay top dollar.
Any restaurant that serves a juicy, flavourful, cooked-to-order and properly presented hamburger deserves to be patronized.
The moment a restaurant serves hamburger on a bun with fries (two starches), I begin to have second thoughts.