The state of (burger) affairs

May 1st, 2011 by Richard Chudy

My third article featured in the Dig. (online exclusive)

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Previously, we’ve discussed the differences between the gourmet and the classic burger, as well as my sad confession as to why I love burgers so much. Yes, I’m a child (I’ve settled for being a man-child at this point) because I eat so many burgers, which aren’t exactly on the high-end list of cuisines available to me in this fine culinary city. But I’m hoping my ridiculous over-analyzing accounts for something. Even if I’m perceived as a complete burger snob and elitist, at least it’s something, right? I think it’s safe to say my blog and my quest is meant for those who share my love of food and take their food as seriously as I do. But am I eliminating an entire group of people who think McDonald’s is the ideal hamburger? I see the look on people’s faces every time I mention the Craigie burger and its hefty $18 price tag as being my favorite burger in the area. How could my favorite burger cost so much?  Shouldn’t Bartley’s orR.F. O’Sullivan’s be the best at least based on the typical look of a burger joint? Maybe I’m more of a food snob than I thought, or dare I use the “f” word (that’s foodie to you and me).

Let’s get back to those McDonald’s apologists. Do they write off any gourmet burger as pretentious and inaccessible or are they simply unaware of what they are missing out on?  I can’t say I blame them entirely; the burger isn’t supposed to be the food choice destined to be treated in such a high-brow manner, by definition, a burger is a no muss no fuss kind of good grub – a quick and satisfying bite topped with lettuce, tomato and a slice of American cheese. Obviously that’s where I beg to differ, but I think I’m creating a different caste, however, even I can acknowledge that there can be room for both. I don’t foresee a problem in trying to refine peoples’ tastes: we could all use a little palate fine-tuning. So allow me to be your burger guide. We don’t need to be defined as burger connoisseurs because we like the pure style of the cheap-o burger or appreciate the delicate touch of a higher end patty finished with truffle oil. I’ve become the burger guy, at least I hope, because I accept and enjoy both burger worlds, there is a time and place for both, I’m not George Costanza, and my worlds are not colliding.

The trick of course, is fusing those two styles together, which of course is why In-N-Out is so damn successful.  It’s cheap and greasy like a burger should be, but delicious and beefy enough to please any tough critic. This is why 5 Guys fails from my perspective. We’ve become so enamored with the familiar fast food style that anything that tries to mimic that is hip and innovative. But 5 Guys’ beef tastes like rubber, the fries are okay, but overall it’s a grease bomb and not in a good way. Oh, by the way, it costs around $11 for a combo meal. In-N-Out costs about half that for a far superior product, too bad they’re only on the West Cast. If you’re looking for a thinner, griddled burger that is familiar in that fast food kid of way go toFlat Patties and taste the difference. You’ll thank me later. But I don’t want to turn this into a 5 Guys rant, I just want my opinions to be respected. Moreover I’m here to dispel rumors and steer my fellow burger lovers towards what I think are the better places around town.

I don’t even know if I have that kind of an influence, but hopefully by now I have established some sort of a reputation. For better or for worse, if I rate a burger on the lower end of the scale, people will go to see how bad it is. If I love it, then best case scenario will be that everyone else will love it too. Or, like most cases, people think I’m a total buffoon either way and think I’m taking myself way too seriously. They’re probably right, but now we’re in this together, joining burger fans throughout Boston, appreciating all styles of our favorite sandwich, till burger do us part.


One Response

  1. I don’t think you’re a buffoon. Burger snob? Maybe… I haven’t tried 5 Guys yet, but people do claim to love it. I got to try In And Out in CA last summer.