Proper Construction

It’s that time of year again–when zillions of people across the country are making a mess of their leftover turkey sandwiches. And that’s a real shame. The noble turkey should never be wasted on an inferior sandwich.

And it’s so unnecessary. We covered the making of a proper turkey sandwich four years ago.

To be fair, the blog had fewer readers then. So if you’re new here, check out that post and spread the word. As a bonus, you’ll get our mindlessly-easy recipe for turkey soup.

But that aside, there’s another sandwich-related problem plaguing America–a worse one, as it strikes at the very foundation of indigenous American cuisine.

As we noted four years ago, mayonnaise is the devil’s condiment. So why has it become the default on hamburgers*?

* Let’s not get into the argument about the ancestry of the burger. Sure, every meat-eating culture has a dish involving ground meat. It’s a great way to use up the leftovers. But the hamburger qua hamburger? American born and bread. (Sorry).

I blame Canada. No, seriously. Forty years ago, Canadians were the only people so lost to virtue as to put mayo on a burger. Today, everywhere in America, if you don’t say “NO MAYO, DAMN IT!” you’re going to get a thick, slimy layer of that white stuff on your burger.

Yeah, a thick layer. Even if I was prepared to accept mayo on the bun–which I’m not–it would have to be as a condiment, like the ketchup and/or mustard* it’s ostensibly replacing, not as an ingredient in its own right. But no, the default is a giant scoop of the evil stuff, outweighing the bun. Heck, I’ve occasionally gotten a burger where I’m fairly sure there’s more mayo than meat.

* You may be surprised to learn that a person of such definitive opinions won’t take a position on the ketchup/mustard debate. The reason is simple: my preference in the matter changes. Some days I want one, some the other, and sometimes both.

It’s a deplorable situation, folks, and it’s only made worse by the ever-increasing tendency for burgers to include lettuce.

I’m not talking about a big wad of shredded lettuce intended to make a fast food burger look as though it’s got some nutritional content. No, I’m talking about an allegedly legitimate food burger with a wad of iceberg big enough to have sunk the Titanic.

Does anybody think this is a good idea? Really. Serious question. Lettuce adds no taste. On a burger, it does two things, neither desirable. It bulks the burger up to the point where you can’t possibly open your mouth wide enough to eat it, and it delivers water straight to the bun, making it soggy.

Really, people, get with it. You want tomato on your burger? Go for it. Onion, raw or grilled? No problem.

But when it comes to lettuce, follow Nancy Reagan’s advice and Just Say No.

And that white, slimy stuff?

Hell No to Mayo!

7 thoughts on “Proper Construction

  1. I know it seems pretentious, but since several visits to England- primarily London- a few decades ago, I’ve taken to eating my hamburgers with a knife and fork, as they did, rather than picking the dripping, unstable thing up and trying to eat it with my hands, usually getting a third of the ingredients on my shirtfront or lap.
    People sometimes notice, but I don’t care. Life offers us quite enough stressful situations without that of trying to eat a sometimes towering burger without tools. I do, however, eat my fries with my fingers, if that helps.

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    • It’s only pretentious if you carry your own silver into In-N-Out.

      Mind you, it’s equally pretentious to carry a book press with you to flatten burgers to the point you can get your mouth around them.

      I fully endorse your right to use tools to eat any food you wish. I’ve never laughed at anyone using a fork and knife to eat pizza either.

      For the record, I’ve been known to use a fork to eat fries, usually when the ketchup is too eager to come out of the bottle.

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      • In the interest of full disclosure, I’ll admit that when I do visit In ‘n Out, I eat the sandwich with my hands. Their burger is thin enough (though tasty), to do so, without jeopardy. I’ll also stipulate that In ‘n Out is the last, and only, fast food burger I’ll eat- if only because they treat their employees decently.
        No, what I’m talking about are the substantial burgers served at places like Luka’s, in downtown Oakland. Weighing in at a half-pound (and going for twelve bucks, last time I was there), you really need tools to get the job done, unless you want your shirtfront decorated with whatever happens to drop out.
        Just to thoroughly disgrace myself, in the eyes of some, I also eat my burritos with a knife and fork. Didn’t pick that up in London, but it just makes sense, to me.

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      • So it’s policy informed by local conditions. Seems sensible enough, then.

        As for burritos, I make a decision based on location and mood. Similar to your burger policy, I suppose.

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  2. Ketchup and mustard. And dill pickles, to provide the crisp/cool that lettuce theoretically brings to the party, I believe.

    johnbrownson, I took my mom to an art museum restaurant once, a beautiful and sophisticated bistro – and they had on the menu the most peculiar thing, a pimiento burger. Heaven help me, I ordered it, but alas a patty stuffed with steaming hot pimiento cheese is INEDIBLE without cutlery. Or a siphon. Your approaches in the matter are beyond reproach!

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    • Your logic on pickles is impeccable. And there are any number of other things one can legitimately add to a burger. But not Teh Evils.

      As for the pimiento burger, sounds like it should come with a complimentary sponge, for post-meal mop-up.

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