Finding little insertions of classism in your everyday life is interesting. As a heads-up, I’m warning anyone looking for cohesive, coherent or cerebral thought to look elsewhere tonight. It’s close to 1am and I’ve had a few drinks. So rather than dissect class in a manner of nuanced observations, I’d rather talk about things that are commensurate with a tired, imbibed brain. Burgers. Grilled patties, housed within a bun and heaped with a mound of delectable complementary toppings. They’re a food group (or a way of life?) that’s often close to my heart. Is the stomach close to the heart? Because that’s where I’d often like to find well broiled chunks of minced beef. If I’m calling on personal values here (when don’t I during this project?), I find it strange to pull a simple meal like the burger into the realm of fine cuisine. I’m not saying you can’t play with the format and shake things up, skew the conventions of the medium (medium rare?) to find new avenues of deliciobility (I’m adopting it). Still, once burgers begin to enter into the realms of $12+, they stop resembling an appealing notion of burgerdom. In some ways, I think my class warfare plays out through burger economy. I like tasting fresh creative outlets, but there’s a level of pretension that comes to the fore when truffles sit upon a patty. If you’re gonna go the full hog and throw down a bunch of ritzy ingredients, you could probably find a more arduous, challenging meal to make.
When the words “deconstructed” or “open” enter the burger lexicon, I’m already out the door. Having always been a big fan of restrictions breed creativity, I like the boundaries created with a burger. You’ve got a patty and toppings housed within a structure. That’s where your creativity can play out. I know I just rallied against turning the burger into high cuisine in the previous paragraph, but that doesn’t mean creativity has to be dead. It’s a strange value I’m attaching onto this food item, but to me it’s none to dissimilar to poutine. Poutine feels like a blue collar food to me. Burgers are much the same. If you wanted something of a higher perceived value with mince, you’d probably just end up with steak tartare or some kind of extravagant Moroccan spiced meatballs rolled out on fat ladies’ legs, cooked in a tajine inside of an underground kiln. A burger is simple and rewards those who don’t fuck around with it too much. That doesn’t mean everything needs to be basic, but I don’t know how necessary a roux would be in the development of any burger.
It’s interesting, because in the abstract I’m so into the idea of excess within the realm of eating. I love finding a theme and adhering to it, whether it’s a specific international cuisine or an all dessert meal of some variety. When this is applied to burgers (maybe because they are so close to my heart), it turns me off a bit. Burger Priest has a secret menu, the options are just ludicrous. I feel like the difference between enjoying your meal and overcoming the adversity of your meal happens when the number of extra patties could be termed as “a couple” or “a few”. I like the taste of things and I like for those tastes to extend for longer, thus I usually enjoy having more of that food in front of me. This enjoyment is lessened, however, when I feel like my food is trying to intimidate me.
So where do I sit on the classist issues of burgers? I want something honest, substantive but not overcompensating. I want the ingredients to be fresh, but not so heavily doctored that I should contemplate whether or not I’m worthy of eating such a work of art. I want a tasty burger that doesn’t cost the earth, but mixes well with the ingredients it’d saddled with. Effectively I just want to go back to Paul’s Da Burger Joint.