Hamburgers Essay

291 Words2 Pages
A hamburger is almost always the best value on a menu, calorie-wise and fillingness-wise, which makes no sense in pure economic terms. With the high price of beef today, the ingredients in a half-pound, house-ground cheeseburger are far more expensive than a few ounces of penne, some tomatoes and a garlic clove. Yet the pasta dish is always more, for solely sociological reasons. People expect a burger to be affordable (unless the principle is being knowingly contravened, a la Café Boulud), and the very fact that a burger is a sandwich makes a category distinction that classes it with working lunches and food you eat with your hands. Hamburgers reverse the very civilizing process of Western society, away from forks and the other distancing implements with which the physical body has been repressed. (I refer here to Norbert Elias on how and where Europeans used to eat, blow their nose, spit, and vomit.) The bun, the American addition to the German Hamburg-er, returns us to the prehistory of the plate, when food was served on bread that one tore chunks off of at will. Accounts of burger eating so often focus on the necessity that a good burger's juices drip down chin and fingers: part of the inner meaning of the burger is its revocation of the European taboo against soiling one's hands with food. In this to eat hamburgers is to indulge in a populist desire to part company with gastronomy altogether, with the notion of an elaborated cuisine. And for this reason the hamburger is the American food that doesn't wax and wane, that New Yorkers can have anywhere and everywhere, and that's always a good deal. I eat a lot of

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