Farmgirls–I have a new favorite food. And–lucky you! I am going to let you in on this rare discovery. I haven’t found a new go-to food for quite a while, so it has been fun to add something new into our rotating food repertoire.
It has only taken me several decades to discover just how delicious this mouth watering creation can be. It is a juicy, savory, and unpretentious all-in-one meal. They can be creative, complex or simple; and–perhaps most notable of all–they are quintessentially American.
Are you teetering on the edge of your seat? What could this amazing food possibly be?
I am, of course, referring to the humble hamburger. Not a veggie burger or chicken sandwich on a bun, but an all beef hamburger! Did you know that they are actually delicious? That the possibilities are endless? That they are sold everywhere? Amazing!
My new love affair with burgers (my friends and family might be a bit sick of me singing their praises) began about a month ago at a renowned local establishment: The Palmer Bar. A few of my mom friends and I started a book club called “Brews and Books.” We meet at places with brewed things–coffee shops and bars, namely. So far we’ve only met at breweries and bars; these Friday night book club meetings quickly turn into girls nights! There are three bars in our little downtown Palmer. Our “late night” options are limited, but P-Bar (what the cool kids call it, I hear) has a reputation for having awesome burgers.
And awesome burgers they do have!
To be fair, I’ve never given burgers a real chance. I disliked them as a child and just kind of assumed I still didn’t like them. Bean burgers and chicken are fine alternatives, so why try to revisit the beef patty? I remember them being very akin to mashed up cardboard with cheese on them. I would make them palatable by adding tons of pickles in the middle and choking it down. I think my problems mainly stemmed from my other picky eater things–no mayo, ketchup, tomatoes, raw onions….doesn’t leave too much for a tasty burger! Luckily, my palate has expanded to include pretty much every edible thing (still no ketchup, though, at least the store bought kind).
Turns out a very well executed burger shared with good friends after a couple of beers is really, really incredible! I shared a “Charlie” (disclaimer: it might be some other name…) burger with my girlfriend. It has cheddar cheese, bacon, jalapeños, lettuce, onion, tomato, mayo. YUM. The grill at P-bar is in the middle of the establishment so you can watch your food being made by often-jamming-out-to-the-juke-box cooks. This really adds to the experience. This burger was illuminating for me. Pretty much life changing. I had an epiphany: the deliciousness of a burger is not necessarily in the patty itself. A burger is nothing if not a sum of its condiments, but without a good patty, those condiments are just salad on mashed up cardboard. If the patty is perfectly juicy and seasoned well, it elevates the way the other ingredients work together in a way that nothing else can compare. There are no substitutions.
So far in my short dalliance with burgers, it is apparent that I like the complex and creative. It is impressive how well textures and flavors combine with bread and beef when in burger form. Within a couple of weeks of that transcendent burger, I ate one more restaurant burger and made burgers at home. I couldn’t stop thinking about them and the possibilities…maybe I was a bit obsessed. Burgers at home was a hit–we even made hamburger buns! Baby Fern was so cute pretending to knead bread as I kneaded the dough. The big girls had a great time forming little buns. Ava and Opal particularly enjoyed the cinnamon fry bread I made with the extra dough It was a sandwich artist’s dream with a plethora of toppings: cheese, bacon, pineapple, jalapeños, onion, lettuce, shredded cabbage and carrots, avocado, tomato, fried onions and mushrooms…Mmmm, I think I know what I’m doing for dinner this Friday!
After more than a month of burger dabbling (am I an expert, yet?!), I now see that all burgers are not created equally. It seems low quality ingredients, overcooking and under-seasoning are the major downfalls to a burger (duh!). Also, while beef is super yummy, I have some quibbles with the confined animal feedlots that most of the beef we eat is a product of. Show me the local, happy beef cows!! So, while I do have a whole new level of appreciation for the humble ground beef and bread combination, it will not become my go-to at most restaurants. I am happy to be a burger snob!
Have you ever eaten one of these truly amazing creations :)? Tell me about your best burger experience!
Until next time,
Sending Peace and Love from Alaska!
Alex, The Rural Farmgirl