roman historian

Hamburger with golden leaves

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File:Hamburg Rathaus.jpg

Last week I visited my friends in Hamburg and when we ate a very good Hamburger in downtown it crossed my mind that the Hamburger received its name from Hamburg. However it reached its popularity when the food was introduced in the United States of America. Since Hamburg was the busiest harbour, from where the emigrants set out, the junk food was named on its basis.

I have to admit I’m not fond of hamburgers. I eat very rarely for instance when I bike a lot (80 or 100 kms a day) I stop at a Mc’Donalds and I order a beef burger however my favorite burger happens to be my home made turkey burger with celery and Granny Smith apple (featured on the Oprah show twice – this is very, very good and special with a cinnamon flavor twist). Actually my family became sort of addicted to that kind of burger so I have to make it quite often (see the recipe below)

Short history of the hamburger

The hamburger meat-ball was invented by a Roman restaurant proprietor (BC). Later on in the 4th century a Roman historian, certain Ammianus Marcellinus made the first reference about the “hamburger” in connection with the Huns whose habit was to soften some meat (horse) under the saddle. When there wasn’t any other food available they fried it and ate it (it was previously flavored with the famous Hungarian paprika, salt and other by now not known spices). This idea spread as the characteristic of the steppe folks’ food, fairly much in the New Age and it got into the European public consciousness.

Later on in the Middle-Ages the Tartars (in the 13th century) liked this kind of food as well and they made a meal of raw meat, (cut up, spiced-today we Hungarians call Tartar’s beef steak) which became popular among the Russian folks. Then this food was introduced into the German mercantile’s cities. Thus by the time of the 19th century the old version of the hamburger was already widespread all over in Europe.

So that was the story of the origin of the burger but the other half of the hamburger’s, the basis was discovered by John Montagu, an English noble man, who was the count of Sandwich. Since lord Sandwich was a very conversant gambler, he did not take the time to have a meal during his long hours playing at the card table. Consequently, he would ask his servants to bring him slices of meat between two slices of bread; a habit well known among his gambling friends. Because John Montagu was the Earl of Sandwich others began to order “the same as lord Sandwich!” – thus the ‘sandwich’ was born. The variant of this became specially popular in Germany and Austria where they used French brioche for this aim.

The hamburger started being served up in New York in the 19th century as a minced meat which was smoked, salted and was served with onion and with bread. Actually it became really popular when the price of the meat decreased due to the increase of the cattle breeding, and at the turn of the century it was available for everybody.

Its popularity grew on the time of the big Great Depression since it cost only five cents. That fact was perceived by Richard and Maurice McDonald in 1948. They sold hot dogs initially, but they realized it soon though that the largest part of their income originates from the hamburgers so they quickly reorganized their business as a hamburger stand and the first McDonald was opened in 1955 in Chicago. 

From the 5 cents burger to the golden burger

When I lived in California, for one year, I was gob smacked at the fact that how much cheaper and skimpier were the American McDonalds comparing to the Europeans, where to eat (in the nineties) there it was regarded as a status symbol. But I think it is also exaggeration when a hamburger costs more than $100. Don’t laugh because it is a fact, well in USA everything is possible.

“It started out as a joke,”- says chef Kevin O’Connell of the $175 burger he serves at New York’s Wall Street Burger Shoppe, a retro diner house better known for $5 sandwiches than gourmet offerings. Created purely in an attempt to one-up the $150 double-truffle patty served at Daniel Boulud’s db Bistro Moderne, O’Connell’s burger-the Richard Nouveau-boasts 10 ounces of Kobe beef, foie gras, exotic mushrooms, cave-aged Gruyère, and fresh truffles packed in a brioche bun. O’Connell added one more exorbitant topping: golden leaves.

– “It needed an extra kick,”- he says of the decision to mix gold flakes with his truffle mayonnaise. Additional gold is sprinkled atop the burger, serving up a total 750 milligrams of the precious metal with each of the two Richard Nouveaus ordered a week. Here’s to deep pockets and full stomachs.

Chef Kevin O’Connells $175 burger he serves at New York’s Wall Street Burger Shoppe

Interesting facts about hamburgers

A $777 Kobe beef and Maine lobster burger, topped with caramelized onion, Brie cheese and prosciutto, was reported available at Le Burger Brasserie, inside the Paris Las Vegas casino.

New York chef Daniel Boulud created an intricate dish composed of layers of ground sirloin, foie gras, and wine-braised short ribs, assembled to look exactly like a fast-food burger. It is available with truffles in season.

On September 2, 2012, the Black Bear Casino Resort near Carlton, Minnesota made the world-record bacon cheeseburger that weighed 2,014 pounds. Guinness World Records verified the record for biggest burger.

In Las Vegas, Nevada at the Heart Attack Grill there is a Quadruple Bypass Burger. The burger weighs two pounds and the name is derived from the fact that the burger is very unhealthy. The restaurant is known for being honest about the fact that their food is unhealthy. Interestingly, they allow people that weigh over 350 pounds to eat for free!

Oprah’s burger recipe

Ingredients: 1/4 cup thinly sliced scallion, 1/2 cup finely chopped celery, 3 granny smith apples, peeled and diced, 1/8 cup canola oil, 4 lbs ground turkey breast, 2 teaspoons Tabasco chipotle pepper sauce, 1 lemon, juice of, after zest is grated, 1/2 bunch parsley, finely chopped, 1/4 cup major grey’s chutney, pureed, 2 tablespoons salt, 2 tablespoons black pepper, 1 Anjou pear, peeled and diced, 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, 1 1/2 cups major grey’s chutney, 1/4 cup dried currants or 1/4 cup raisins, mustard with estragon and pickles (my addition to it)

Directions:

1. Saute the scallions, celery and green apples in the canola oil until tender. Let cool. 2. Place the ground turkey in a large mixing bowl. Add sauteed items and the pepper sauce, lemon juice and zest, parsley, chutney. 3. Shape into 8-8 oz burger patties, cover and refrigerate for 2 hours. 4. Season the turkey burgers with the salt and pepper. Place on a preheated, lightly oiled grill and grill for 7 minutes each side or until the meat is thoroughly cooked. 5. To make the side of pear chutney, toss peeled and diced pear with cinnamon and sea salt. 6. Place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and bake at 350 for 10 minutes. Let cool. 7. Add pear to chutney and currants/raisins. 8. Serve alongside turkey burgers. 9. Serves 6. 10. Let sit 5 minutes before serving.

Note: Smear the bread with mustard and add finelly chopped pickles.

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