Hamburger Imperialism

I studied anthropology, you know.


I’m all about accepting other cultures, and relativism, and trying new things, and that nothing is “good” or “bad”, but simply “different”.


Unless we’re talking about hamburgers. There’s a right way to make hamburgers, and there’s a wrong way, and I can unequivocally say that the Spaniards do it WRONG.


I’m here to correct them and show them the light.


The right way to do hamburgers:

1. 100% ALL BEEF PATTY. There should be nothing but beef in your hamburger. Nothing. It should be thick, and grilled, or at least somehow charred. I only put Worchestershire, salt, and pepper in mine.

2. Lettuce. Tomato. Pickles. Onions. You might not like all of these, but they should at least be options.

3. Cheddar cheese. Yeah, there are haute cuisine hamburgers that use all kinds of different cheeses nowadays, but if you’re talking about a classic, old-fashioned, 100% American-style burger, it better be yellow cheddar. The yellower, the betterer.

4. Ketchup and mustard. And/or. There are NO OTHER OPTIONS. (Okay, I really like barbecue sauce but I recognize this is not the traditional way, and barbecue sauce is also American, so it’s okay.)


Now, the WRONG (Spanish) WAY to make hamburgers.

1. Pork/veal meat mix. Very bad. (I think they’ve taken the “ham” part of hamburger a little too literally.) Pork, as “the other white meat”, has a tendency to turn gray, especially when ground, resulting in a lumpy and extremely unappetizing patty. And there are never any grill or char marks, which makes me wonder just how Spanish restaurants cook their hamburgers anyway.

2. White, unidentifiable cheese. There’s a kind of presliced sandwich cheese you can buy at the store that’s called “made in Galicia cheese”. There’s no more description than that. And yet, the lack of description says it all, doesn’t it?

3. MAYONNAISE. I hate mayonnaise and don’t believe it should go on any sandwich but a BLT, but it ESPECIALLY should not go on a hamburger. That’s WRONG.

4. No pickles? No onion? NO HAMBURGER BUN? Basically, you’re left with a ground meat patty on bread with lettuce and tomato. Hamburgross.

5. And the kicker…NO EGG. Yeah, Kuma’s Corner in Chicago has a great burger with egg on it, but they specialize in weird and different burgers, and have proven they know how to make them the right way so they are allowed to break the rules. But if you’re just serving up a classic burger without a cute and creative name and you don’t have a world-famous reputation, it better not have egg anywhere near it.


My American friend Jill, who has lived here so long she’s really more Galician than anything, has accepted this fact. She says the Spanish way is just a different (and equally tasty) way of making hamburgers, and she likes the egg on it. But we know she’s wrong.


I’m still working on Jill, but I was at least able to save Isaac’s family from the darkness of bad hamburgers on the 4th of July, when my imperialistic American instincts kicked in and I decided there was no better way to christen his parents’ new barbecue than with awesome American hamburgers. They went fast. Pablo ate four. I didn’t even get pictures. I would say I’m sorry, but I’m not. Somewhere out there are eight people who now know what they’ve been missing. They’re on the right path. My work here is done.


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