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Quest for the 30s-style burger

Quest for the 30s-style burger
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  • Quest for the 30s-style burger

    Post #1 - June 3rd, 2004, 3:31 pm
    Post #1 - June 3rd, 2004, 3:31 pm Post #1 - June 3rd, 2004, 3:31 pm
    One notion I popularized, slightly, on a previous food board was the "30s-style burger." Now, my grandfather once ran a hamburger stand in Wichita, Kansas, a place that takes its burgers seriously, so getting a burger right in the "30s style" is a matter of some import to me. But enough talking, let's look at a picture:

    Image

    This is the archetypal 30s style burger. First off, you have a relatively small patty-- none of this quarter or even half pound stuff. A patty like this is probably 10 to the pound, maybe even 12. A White Castle (founded in Wichita, mind you) takes it as high as 22 to the pound for those little sliders.

    The focus with such a burger is the harmonious blending of multiple elements-- a soft white bun, mustard, pickle slices, and onion (raw dice or grilled rings), cheese optional. They are then wrapped inside a sheet or sleeve of white paper, where the heat of the meat patty will warm up the other ingredients and give off steam which will blend the whole into more than the sum of its parts. The impression given by such a burger is not of a thick slab of beef slightly restrained by a wimpy, quickly juice-dissolved bun, or worse yet made into a kind of beef salad with lettuce and tomato-- it's of a kind of meat pastry, sweet white bun and savory mustard and pickles and meat all at once. (Its most likely antecedent, indeed the source of its name "Hamburger," is likely the German bierock, a baked meat pastry.) If its meaty bulk not enough for you, order two. Or five.

    That this is the Ur-burger from which all others descend is proven by a quick examination of the relics of the earliest hamburgers still found on chain menus. The White Castle slider-- smaller, but the same simple ingredients and ratio of beef to bun. The original McDonald's hamburger-- fits the paradigm quite well. The Big Boy-- the first major innovation, invented in California in the 1930s, using the same size patty but putting two of them on a doubledecker bun and then experimenting with unnatural additions like Thousand Island.

    And this is where burgers like that one are still served: Bill's, just over the Evanston border on Asbury (aka Western). The beef could be better, and it seems safe to say the ownership wasn't Hindi when, say, James Thurber wrote about such "dogwagons" and the pioneers crossing the country on their "sowbellies" in "A Couple of Hamburgers," but otherwise, nothing has changed, from its archetypal cream-and-maroon tile exterior to the stainless steel insides and grill in view:

    Image

    (Well, one thing has changed. For the first time, while taking a picture of the outside of a building-- no faces in it, just the exterior, I am always careful about that-- someone came out and asked me if I had permission to take a picture of their building. Their building, which has been sitting there exposed in public for 70 years. No, nor do I have permission to call it a 30s style dogwagon, but I will anyway, because that's the freedom my forefathers crossed this country on their sowbellies for! Seriously, Bill's, the next time a food geek takes a snapshot of your outside, it's a compliment, not cause for suspicion-- of what, I'm not even sure....)

    Photos relinked.
    Last edited by Mike G on August 27th, 2009, 8:00 pm, edited 2 times in total.
  • Post #2 - June 3rd, 2004, 3:34 pm
    Post #2 - June 3rd, 2004, 3:34 pm Post #2 - June 3rd, 2004, 3:34 pm
    Did Bill smash your camera like Sonny at Michael's wedding and then throw a bunch of bills at you while you were on the ground?

    Seriously, what exactly did he say to you?
  • Post #3 - June 3rd, 2004, 3:40 pm
    Post #3 - June 3rd, 2004, 3:40 pm Post #3 - June 3rd, 2004, 3:40 pm
    It wasn't Bill, it was one of the women (Mrs. Bill?), who just asked if I had permission. I just said it was for personal use and gave her my most perplexed, why it never would have even occurred to me to, say, post it on a website devoted to Chicago food look. She seem mollified and went back inside.

    Considering that a moment earlier, a customer had been proudly telling the other customers squeezed inside to be sure and pick up an Evanston Review today because there was a story about him getting his felony robbery charges dismissed, I was rather surprised to be the biggest worry they had that day....
  • Post #4 - June 4th, 2004, 9:56 am
    Post #4 - June 4th, 2004, 9:56 am Post #4 - June 4th, 2004, 9:56 am
    Mike G wrote:It wasn't Bill, it was one of the women (Mrs. Bill?), who just asked if I had permission. I just said it was for personal use and gave her my most perplexed, why it never would have even occurred to me to, say, post it on a website devoted to Chicago food look. She seem mollified and went back inside.

    Considering that a moment earlier, a customer had been proudly telling the other customers squeezed inside to be sure and pick up an Evanston Review today because there was a story about him getting his felony robbery charges dismissed, I was rather surprised to be the biggest worry they had that day....

    Perhaps it was the convergence of that customer and a camera that made them nervous...
  • Post #5 - June 4th, 2004, 10:46 am
    Post #5 - June 4th, 2004, 10:46 am Post #5 - June 4th, 2004, 10:46 am
    Vital Information wrote:Did Bill smash your camera like Sonny at Michael's wedding and then throw a bunch of bills at you while you were on the ground?


    That was Connie's wedding... :wink:

    A

    Uh oh, my first emoticon...
    Alle Nerven exzitiert von dem gewürzten Wein -- Anwandlung von Todesahndungen -- Doppeltgänger --
    - aus dem Tagebuch E.T.A. Hoffmanns, 6. Januar 1804.
    ________
    Na sir is na seachain an cath.
  • Post #6 - June 4th, 2004, 12:32 pm
    Post #6 - June 4th, 2004, 12:32 pm Post #6 - June 4th, 2004, 12:32 pm
    Mike G wrote: The focus with such a burger is the harmonious blending of multiple elements-- a soft white bun, mustard, pickle slices, and onion (raw dice or grilled rings), cheese optional. They are then wrapped inside a sheet or sleeve of white paper, where the heat of the meat patty will warm up the other ingredients and give off steam which will blend the whole into more than the sum of its parts. The impression given by such a burger is not of a thick slab of beef slightly restrained by a wimpy, quickly juice-dissolved bun, or worse yet made into a kind of beef salad with lettuce and tomato-- it's of a kind of meat pastry, sweet white bun and savory mustard and pickles and meat all at once. (Its most likely antecedent, indeed the source of its name "Hamburger," is likely the German bierock, a baked meat pastry.)


    MikeG:

    Your suggestion that the American hamburger finds its origins in the �bierock�, an explanation of which I hitherto was not aware, has piqued my interest and egged me on to some further investigation and reflection. Here are my preliminary thoughts on the topic:

    Any straight-forward derivation of the venerable burger from the Bierock seems rendered slightly problematic by the onomastic aspect of the question. The Bierock, a sort of pasty or bread-roll filled with ground beef and cabbage, seems to be closely associated with the Volga German Mennonites (whose presence is, I believe, considerable in the environs of Wichita). Given the association with this group, the connexion of Bierock to the Turkic filled-bread dish, best known in the west from the Turkish �b�rek� seems likely. From a linguistic standpoint, the sound correspondence is excellent, with the only difference being in the quality of the vowel of the initial syllable. The Volga German form must, of course, be compared with the forms in the local Turkic languages of the Volga basin (as well as any possible Russian dialect intermediaries), but if these other Turkic languages, like Turkish, have <�>, then the Volga German form shows unrounding of the front round vowel (very common in German dialects) and raising. The details must be checked but on the face of things, it looks pretty likely that Bierock is indeed from a Turkic language.

    The culinary progenitor of the American Hamburger I had always believed was what is known as �Deutsches Beefsteak� and comes in various local variants, such as the �Bremer Beefsteak� from Bremen (with some mashed potato added to the meat mixture) and the �Hamburger Beefsteak� from Hamburg (there are further variants, sometimes with diverging local names). But these dishes are all in composition partially more similar to Frikadellen or Bouletten, that is like meatballs, insofar as they necessarily involve the ground meat being seasoned, than the American Hamburger, which, at least to my knowledge, does not canonically involve seasoning agents beyond salt and pepper added to the meat (though obviously other seasonings are acceptable facultative additions). On the other hand, the Hamburger variant differs crucially from northern European meatballs in two ways, namely, in that (a) it is made of ground beef (hence the name, Deutsches Beefsteak), whereas Frikadellen or Bouletten are made more often with mixtures of beef and pork and veal; (b) the Hamburger Deutsches Beefsteak does not contain one of the key ingredients of the Frikadellen and Bouletten (or Bavarian Fleischpfanzerl and Austrian Faschierte Laibchen, etc. etc.), which all contain old bread rolls as filler and lightening agent. Finally, note that while the dishes of the B�rek/Bierock family are baked, the German Beefsteak in the style of Hamburg is, like its American cousin, typically (originally) fried, along with onion rings in the pan with the juices and residue of the cooked patty.

    All in all, given the name of the American dish and its close association with the very specific treatment of ground beef in the city of Hamburg*, I strongly suspect that the primary source of the American beef-patty sandwich was indeed �das Deutsche Beefsteak auf Hamburger Art�. Nevertheless, the close ties of the further development of the Hamburger across the country to Wichita and the influence of the Volga German Mennonites certainly render not implausible the possibility of secondary influences of the Bierock on the Burger(s) in Kansas and regions which have fallen under Kansan cultural influence.

    Jedenfalls sind det alle janz leckere Dinge.

    Anton(ius)

    *Nota bene: there was a not insubstantial presence of immigrants from Hamburg in places such as New York, the then still independent Brooklyn, Hoboken and Jersey City in the 19th and early 20th century. My grandfather worked with a bunch of Hamburgers, as well as some meatballs of various ethnic origins, in the shipyards on the Jersey side of the North River, a.k.a., lower Hudson.
    Last edited by germuska on May 23rd, 2008, 7:16 am, edited 1 time in total. Reason: restore lost text after migration
    Alle Nerven exzitiert von dem gewürzten Wein -- Anwandlung von Todesahndungen -- Doppeltgänger --
    - aus dem Tagebuch E.T.A. Hoffmanns, 6. Januar 1804.
    ________
    Na sir is na seachain an cath.
  • Post #7 - June 4th, 2004, 1:40 pm
    Post #7 - June 4th, 2004, 1:40 pm Post #7 - June 4th, 2004, 1:40 pm
    Antonius wrote:
    Vital Information wrote:Did Bill smash your camera like Sonny at Michael's wedding and then throw a bunch of bills at you while you were on the ground?


    That was Connie's wedding... :wink:

    A

    Uh oh, my first emoticon...


    Of course, my bad
  • Post #8 - June 4th, 2004, 2:54 pm
    Post #8 - June 4th, 2004, 2:54 pm Post #8 - June 4th, 2004, 2:54 pm
    Antonius,

    I very much enjoyed your culinary/linguistic exegesis here.

    Ground beef between bread seems to be the basic idea, of which there are many naturally occurring variants, which is why I'm a little skeptical concerning the theory of an Ur-Hamburger. Of course there's such a thing as evolution, but I'm more a proponent of the independent development theory of everything: there are no Platonic ideals, archetypes, or "first" notions of anything. People all over the planet, if they have beef and bread, will at some point put them together and eat them. Got salt? Put that on too, not because someone told you to, or because it's traditional, but because it's a natural. And while you're at it, invent god, creation myths, and legends starring heroes similar to those of cultures you've never had contact with, etc.

    Speaking of linguistics, did you catch the Spelling Bee on ESPN last night? I found myself able to spell about 10% of the words (mostly ones I knew: trianon, Balearic, etc.)

    David

    PS. What do you mean by saying your grandfather worked with "meatballs"! Like we're not supposed to know what ethnic group that refers to? Don't get me started!!
    :twisted: :P
    Last edited by germuska on May 23rd, 2008, 7:18 am, edited 2 times in total. Reason: restore lost text after migration
  • Post #9 - June 4th, 2004, 4:00 pm
    Post #9 - June 4th, 2004, 4:00 pm Post #9 - June 4th, 2004, 4:00 pm
    Antonius, despite your insidious attempts to sow doubt and discord, as a proud son of Kansas with German Mennonite forebears, it is plain to me that the idea of slipping a hamburger steak between an American-style roll was the work of proud, ingenious German Mennonites attempting to replicate a tasty homestyle bierock without the materials at hand.

    Seriously, I think Dave makes the real point, which is that something this obvious couldn't have happened only once-- in which case the story we're casting doubt on is not my Mennonite story but the one (repeated in this month's Saveur, in fact) that the hamburger was invented at the St. Louis World's Fair of 1904 by one Fletcher Davis. This site has a number of hamburger origin stories:

    http://whatscookingamerica.net/History/HamburgerHistory.htm

    As it suggests, many of the pre-World's Fair "hamburgers" are so far from what I consider the archetypal American hamburger (even though one of them may well have given it the name "Hamburger" after its maker's city of origin) that they are sort of like the claims of those aviators who managed to fall at something less than 16 feet per second per second, and thus claim to have flown before the Wright Brothers. Even Fletch Davis (aka Dave of Athens) made a burger that only vaguely resembles a modern burger-- a fried hamburger steak placed between two pieces of toast and topped with raw onion but without mustard. Likewise, Louis' Lunch in New Haven claims to have invented the hamburger but its is also on toast with no condiments whatsoever; while others include such non-canonical ingredients as fried egg, brown sugar and coffee in the meat mix, and so on.

    Whatever the claims of these peple to having made something that customers of 1900 or 1910 might have called a "hamburger," it is not until we get to this item that we see what I call "30s style" take shape:

    1916 - Walter Anderson from Winchita [sic], Kansas, a fry cook, developed buns to accomodate the hamburger patties. The dough he selected was heavier than ordinary bread dough, and he formed it into small, square shapes that were just big enough for one of his hamburgers. He quit his job as a cook and used his life savings to purchase an old trolley car and developed it into a diner featuring his hamburgers. In 1921, Anderson co-founded the White Castle Hamburger with Edgar Waldo "Billy" Ingram, the oldest continuously running hamburger chain.

    There is a place in Salina KS, called the Cozy Cafe, that has been making a knockoff White Castle exactly the same way since 1922, and since its very beginning the burgers have been prepared the same way-- fried in an onion broth (as at White Castle), with some holes pressed into the meat to allow the broth to reach the top, and topped with onion, pickle and mustard. Although the White Castle is not quite the same as the archetypal "30s style burger," I think the evidence is strong that the hamburger that really won over America, as opposed to many other ways of sticking a hamburger steak between bread, was developed primarily in Kansas around this time. I've already posted about the Nu-Way chain, which appeared in the 30s in Wichita, and another Wichitan named Ralph Baum started a variety of restaurants serving canonical burgers during the 20s and 30s and set the standard for Wichita burgers. He eventually sold many of them off to employees, so that it was still possible, up until the 1980s, to order a classic style burger from someone who had learned his trade from Baum, such as Bill of Bill's Big 6. (Bill was also a bit of a rightwing crank, not uncommon in Wichita, but you know, I tended to cut him some slack on those things, since he was also a survivor of the Bataan Death March....)

    Now, as Paul Harvey would say, comes the rest of the story: the street on which the original White Castle (building still extant) stood was called... Pattie.
  • Post #10 - June 4th, 2004, 4:12 pm
    Post #10 - June 4th, 2004, 4:12 pm Post #10 - June 4th, 2004, 4:12 pm
    David Hammond wrote:Ground beef between bread seems to be the basic idea, of which there are many naturally occurring variants, which is why I'm a little skeptical concerning the theory of an Ur-Hamburger. Of course there's such a thing as evolution, but I'm more a proponent of the independent development theory of everything: there are no Platonic ideals, archetypes, or "first" notions of anything. People all over the planet, if they have beef and bread, will at some point put them together and eat them.
    ...

    PS. What do you mean by saying your grandfather worked with "meatballs"! Like we're not supposed to know what ethnic group that refers to? Don't get me started!!
    :twisted: :P


    David:

    It is, indeed, a failing of the ignorant and weak-minded, the need to attribute all classes of similar things back to single sources of origin. Independent invention and parallel development are clearly quite common on all fronts of human endeavour. Take, for example, pasta/maccheroni, which one variety of dunce insists were invented once in China and another, more modern variety of dunce claims were invented once by the Arabs. Clearly, such basic things need not be imagined as inventions on a par with the whiffle ball and lava lamp, things which have changed our lives for the better and were clearly conceived by the power of the solitary genius.

    Yet the Hamburger is an interesting case. Is there some truth in your observation that meat and bread have been brought together in diverse settings without cross-influence? Indeed. Ground beef even and rolls even? Yea verily. But the Hamburger bears such a suspiciously un-American name, a thoroughly Teutonic name, and in various ways, moreover, resembles the specific preparation of ground meat first developed by the v�lkisch genius of that old Hanseatic port town, more than it does all other known ground meat preparations of the Old World. Lo, I believe in this case we have ample justification to say with some measure of confidence that the Hamburger, in some very real sense, must trace its lineage back to the shores of the Elbe.

    In other words, you're surely basically right, but the name points to a specific German link, at least in the minds of some Americans way back when.

    Regarding the Spelling Bee. Autochthonous. One of my favourite words. The Hamburger is an autochthonous development of the people of Hamburg.

    Regarding meatballs: Meatballs, though having been perfected by the Italians, belong to all races. There are, of course, Swedish meatballs (k�ttbullar), Dutch meatballs (bitterballen), Greek and Arab and Turkish meatballs (keftedes, kefta etc. etc.), Mexican meatballs (alb�ndigas), French and German meatballs, etc. etc. etc.... Indeed, aside perhaps from the Inuit, which people has no meatballs? I stand by the statement that my grandfather worked with, nay, was part of an ethnically diverse workforce of meatballs.

    Final word: folk wisdom from the Old Country (Hoboken):
    Q: Why do pigs whistle?
    A: Caus' meatballs like you don't bounce.

    :twisted: :roll: :wink:

    Antonius
    Last edited by germuska on May 23rd, 2008, 7:20 am, edited 1 time in total. Reason: restore lost text after migration
    Alle Nerven exzitiert von dem gewürzten Wein -- Anwandlung von Todesahndungen -- Doppeltgänger --
    - aus dem Tagebuch E.T.A. Hoffmanns, 6. Januar 1804.
    ________
    Na sir is na seachain an cath.
  • Post #11 - June 4th, 2004, 6:22 pm
    Post #11 - June 4th, 2004, 6:22 pm Post #11 - June 4th, 2004, 6:22 pm
    Too much fun!

    Regarding Thousand Island on burgers: "unnatural"? Hardly! A)Thousand Island is mayo-based. B)Mayo makes almost anything better. Therefore, Thousand Island makes burgers better. Personally, I like straight mayo, but Thousand Island is an OK second choice. Just be sure to get some on the side to dip your fries! (Total tangent: If you've ever heard rumors of the Japanese love of gobs of mayo on Western-style sandwiches, it's true!)

    On the topic of ethnic meatballs - be aware that Turkish kufte (sp?) is to haggis as inside-out rolls are to maki. Wondering what's in it? Don't ask, just enjoy.
  • Post #12 - June 4th, 2004, 9:53 pm
    Post #12 - June 4th, 2004, 9:53 pm Post #12 - June 4th, 2004, 9:53 pm
    Mike G wrote:One notion I popularized, slightly, on a previous food board was the "30s-style burger." Now, my grandfather once ran a hamburger stand in Wichita, Kansas, a place that takes its burgers seriously, so getting a burger right in the "30s style" is a matter of some import to me. But enough talking, let's look at a picture:



    Allolw me to contribute this. This is Brenda's Bigger Burger in Fayetteville, AR.

    Image

    I have been working here for almost two weeks and will be making a more extensive report of the chow I found here in Northwest Arkansas in the Outside of Chicago section when I get home. In the meantime, I think this place qualifies for status as a purveyor of the burger in question. Technically, it's probably a little bigger than the burger you are talking aobut (but not by much...despite the name of Brenda's Bigger Burger). Thake a look:

    Image
    [/img]
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #13 - June 7th, 2004, 2:02 pm
    Post #13 - June 7th, 2004, 2:02 pm Post #13 - June 7th, 2004, 2:02 pm
    Mike G:

    Such a grave matter as the history of the hamburger cannot be neglected by men of good conscience. I must therefore respond to some of the points you make in your most recent contribution to this string (spago?) but do so humbly and with the greatest respect both for you and for the office of Maiordomus.

    I Ontology and Morphology of the Bierock and Hamburger

    Mike G wrote:Antonius, despite your insidious attempts to sow doubt and discord, as a proud son of Kansas with German Mennonite forebears, it is plain to me that the idea of slipping a hamburger steak between an American-style roll was the work of proud, ingenious German Mennonites attempting to replicate a tasty homestyle bierock without the materials at hand.


    The traditional Bierock of the Volga German Mennonites, surely derived from the �b�rek� of Turkic dwellers of the Steppes surrounding the Volga, differs radically from the modern American hamburger, in that in the former case the raw meat is enclosed in raw dough and the thus conjoined elements are then baked together as a single item, whereas, of course, in the latter case, the finished dish is produced through the employment of separate and disparate cooking methods performed on each of the two major components: the bread is first baked and at some later, potentially temporally far-removed time, it is then divided in pieces, between two of which the independently fried patty of ground flesh is placed.

    From this observation, let us once and for all remove the Bierock from any discussion of the original conception of the Hamburger, though of course this conclusion in no way precludes the possibility of subsequent cross-influences of the Bierock upon the later development of the Hamburger, an eventuality for which we made allowance in our previous discussion in this string. Such cross-influence is made possible by the fact that the two dishes clearly share the most basic feature of bringing together a bread-like substance with ground meat but the differences, which secure the distinct ontological status of the two are several and unassailable.

    II Der �Urburger�
    Drawing from this discussion as well as from some of the previous contributions to the argument, we may with justification attempt to define the Hamburger in the most basic, original sense.

    American Hamburger: a dish which is the complex of a minimally seasoned patty of ground beef, which has been fried (or in later versions grilled), and served between two pieces of a wheat-based baked good, upon which by facultative choice of the individual consumer may be added one or more of a wide range of condiments, including but not limited to sauces (ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, etc.), vegetable matter (lettuce, tomato, onions raw or fried, pickled cucumbers, etc.), or animal products (e.g., cheese, bacon).

    Now if we compare the American Hamburger, as here defined, to the Deutsches Beefsteak auf Hamburger Art, the resemblance is striking and undeniable:

    Deutsches Beefsteak auf Hamburger Art: a patty of minimally seasoned ground beef, which itself does not contain any starchy matter (mashed potato, bread roll), which is fried and accompanied by onion slices which are fried together with the patty in the fat and juices rendered from the cooking of the meat. By facultative choice of the individual cook and/or consumer, the patty may be served on a plate to be eaten with knife and fork along with other items, including bread or a bread roll, or the patty can be placed within a large incision made in a bread roll and thus consumed � pied.

    The similarity of the North German dish to its American counterpart may seem too simple and basic to demand the invocation of any specific North German influence in the creation of the American Hamburger but in this regard we must bear the following key points in mind:

    i) the Deutsches Beefsteak auf Hamburger Art stands out from other European preparations of ground meat in that a) only beef is used; b) the meat is only lightly seasoned; c) no starchy filler is added to the meat. No such treatment of ground beef is known to this writer in traditional cookery elsewhere in western Europe.

    ii) the long-standing use in America of the appellation of �Hamburger� for the, at its very basis, essentially identical treatment of ground beef known in Germany as �Deutsches Beefsteak auf Hamburger Art� indicates that at the very least, there was more or less widespread association of the ground beef preparation with German and specifically �Hamburgian� origins, for the name has not only remained over time but in addition has no regional, ethnic or class-oriented competitors (terms such as �slider� being clearly of secondary origin and application). Whether a similar preparation arose independently in North America and only subsequently came to take on at some later time the German-derived appellation cannot be ascertained, but there is no a priori reason to prefer such a scenario to the more straight-forward explanation, by which the Hamburger would have been a preparation of ground beef introduced by North Germans and labelled "Hamburger" by them or by their non-German neighbours.

    iii) From this argumentation, it follows that we may well be emboldened to suggest that the original condiment to the American Hamburger was the selfsame one employed by the inhabitants of Lower Saxony, namely the fried onion. And indeed, the association of the fried or grilled onion with the fried or grilled ground-beef patty is widespread and long-standing in North America. Again, such a combination is hardly rare in the cuisines of the world, but the coalescence of various purely culinary elements � choice of meat, seasoning technique, meat to bread relationship, cooking method, and basic condiment �� together with the undeniable onomastic connexion, lends the following suppositions an extraordinarily high degree of probable veracity:

    1. The American Hamburger is a direct descendant of the Deutsches Beefsteak auf Hamburger Art, introduced presumably by immigrants from North Germany and especially Hamburg.
    2. From early on, the favoured and now wholly dominant presentation of the Hamburger in America involves placement of the patty between two pieces of some manner of bread; thus, a variant treatment known in Germany was selected as the canonical treatment in America.
    3. The form of bread most likely used (optionally) in Germany and now vastly favoured in the United States is a roll (as opposed to slices of a large loaf of bread), but sliced bread has likely always been an acceptable option (e.g., Hackney�s use of sliced pumpernickel!)
    4. The original and most fundamental (Ur-) condiment for the American Hamburger was likely the fried onion, though clearly the use of condiments has been and remains a largely open and secondary matter. N.B., the occurrence of fried eggs as a condiment for the patty in some early American recipes may well further strengthen the North German connexion, for across North Germany and the Netherlands, fried eggs are commonly used as a topping to meat dishes.

    In conclusion, let me express my unconditional agreement with you that attempts to trace the origins of dishes such as the Hamburger to the work of a single individual are clearly misguided and can be dismissed as the expression of intellectual simplicity or even vacuity. I no more believe some single person invented the dish at the St. Louis World�s Fair or at Louis� Lunch counter in New Haven than I believe the father of Doctor Evil invented the question mark. Furthermore, I will happily concede the possibility that Wichita and Kansas played an especially key r�le in the later development of the dish in North America, though I claim no special expertise in 20th century victology of the western States. Nevertheless, I hope here to have made a strong case for the American Hamburger owing its existence to the endeavours of intrepid North German cooks, and thus being ultimately the continuation of a gift bestowed upon the ancient inhabitants of the Elbe region by their beloved god, Saxnot.

    (Twisted Evil Rolling Eyes Wink)
    Antonius
    Last edited by germuska on May 23rd, 2008, 7:21 am, edited 1 time in total. Reason: restore lost text after migration
    Alle Nerven exzitiert von dem gewürzten Wein -- Anwandlung von Todesahndungen -- Doppeltgänger --
    - aus dem Tagebuch E.T.A. Hoffmanns, 6. Januar 1804.
    ________
    Na sir is na seachain an cath.
  • Post #14 - June 7th, 2004, 3:14 pm
    Post #14 - June 7th, 2004, 3:14 pm Post #14 - June 7th, 2004, 3:14 pm
    Antonius wrote:
    20th century victology of the western States


    Can you provide references for those of us wishing to pursue further studies in this science (or is it an an art)? I am particularly interested in summer volunteer work at a victology site where I can help to unearth and categorize western victological artifacts.

    :lol:
    d
    Feeling (south) loopy
  • Post #15 - June 7th, 2004, 3:49 pm
    Post #15 - June 7th, 2004, 3:49 pm Post #15 - June 7th, 2004, 3:49 pm
    The traditional Bierock of the Volga German Mennonites, surely derived from the �b�rek� of Turkic dwellers of the Steppes surrounding the Volga, differs radically from the modern American hamburger, in that in the former case the raw meat is enclosed in raw dough and the thus conjoined elements are then baked together as a single item, whereas, of course, in the latter case, the finished dish is produced through the employment of separate and disparate cooking methods performed on each of the two major components


    Ha! But, o Sower of Burgerly Discord, did I not clearly state:

    The focus with such a burger is the harmonious blending of multiple elements-- a soft white bun, mustard, pickle slices, and onion (raw dice or grilled rings), cheese optional. They are then wrapped inside a sheet or sleeve of white paper, where the heat of the meat patty will warm up the other ingredients and give off steam which will blend the whole into more than the sum of its parts.


    Now then. Seriously, is the bierock an actual historical antecedent, or merely an analogy? Were actual Mennonites thinking hmm, kinda like a bierock if you let it set there a minute and git the onions melted into the cheese real good, or is Mike G merely drawing that analogy to drive home the point that a burger with a small patty and a limited number of fillings blends together more harmoniously into something more closely resembling a baked good, in contrast to a 1/2 lb. slab o' beef with two thick beefsteak tomato slices and half a head of iceberg lettuce stuck on a bun, a foodstuff which truly remains in a state of discord?

    Heck if I know. Somebody surely thought "that's kinda like a bierock, wish I had some cabbage to stick in it" at some point, but beyond that, who can say.

    Now, one thing. You say that there's no filler in the German Hamburger, and it's true it doesn't have the bread crumbs or such that we see in meatloaf, Salisbury steak, etc. (Not really filler, more like binder. I don't think they add much to the total bulk.) But there is certainly a German tradition of mixing chopped onion INTO the meat-- in fact Mirabell, and perhaps other German restaurants, serve them that way to this day. And I have to wonder-- do such burgers hold together on their own, or do they need a little binder? I don't honestly know, but it's possible.

    I would add one other thing that distinguishes the hamburger (American and most likely in the German case too): the way it is fried. It is not, usually, sauteed. It is seared to, ideally, create a brownish crust on the outside. (Superdawg's burger is a good example of this.) Not every place achieves that, but overwhelmingly, the respectable burger place tries to create a skin which I assume is thought to trap juices inside as well as provide a satisfying crunch that keeps the meat from seeming wimpy (ironically, the name of another 30s-era chain, now found mainly in the UK). That is all very different from, say, a Salisbury steak.
    Last edited by germuska on May 23rd, 2008, 7:22 am, edited 1 time in total. Reason: restore lost text after migration
  • Post #16 - June 7th, 2004, 4:27 pm
    Post #16 - June 7th, 2004, 4:27 pm Post #16 - June 7th, 2004, 4:27 pm
    dicksond wrote:Can you provide references for those of us wishing to pursue further studies in this science (or is it an an art)? :lol:


    Dear Mr. D,

    Victological studies can be pursued at a number of reputable institutions across these United States. I would, however, humbly suggest that the Institute of European Victology, where I currently serve as director, is the first and finest institution of its kind in the civilised world. In addition to myself, the staff includes Doctors Gennaro Mangione (Napoli), Detlev Eisbein (Potsdam), Henri Bouffard (Lyon), and Hamish Gutser (Dunfermline). Applications are available on line from our website: www.namnam.edu.

    Sincerely,
    Antonius
    Doctor of Victological Science
    Director, Institute of European Victology
    Academia Novi Belgii
    Alle Nerven exzitiert von dem gewürzten Wein -- Anwandlung von Todesahndungen -- Doppeltgänger --
    - aus dem Tagebuch E.T.A. Hoffmanns, 6. Januar 1804.
    ________
    Na sir is na seachain an cath.
  • Post #17 - June 7th, 2004, 5:23 pm
    Post #17 - June 7th, 2004, 5:23 pm Post #17 - June 7th, 2004, 5:23 pm
    Mike G wrote:
    Heck if I know. Somebody surely thought "that's kinda like a bierock, wish I had some cabbage to stick in it" at some point, but beyond that, who can say.


    Don Michele,

    I have no dispute with your suggestion but such a development would, of course, have been secondary to the prior appearance and dissemination of the North German "Hamburger" in the United States.

    Now, one thing. You say that there's no filler in the German Hamburger, and it's true it doesn't have the bread crumbs or such that we see in meatloaf, Salisbury steak, etc.... But there is certainly a German tradition of mixing chopped onion INTO the meat-- in fact Mirabell, and perhaps other German restaurants, serve them that way to this day.


    There are many variations of the dish found throughout Germany; what is most remarkable and relevant to the discussion at hand is that it is the style favoured in and around Hamburg (ohne onion in the patty) which most resembles the simple American treatment-- and which clearly gave its name to the American dish.

    I would add one other thing that distinguishes the hamburger (American and most likely in the German case too): the way it is fried. It is not, usually, sauteed. It is seared to, ideally, create a brownish crust on the outside... That is all very different from, say, a Salisbury steak.


    Curious, though, that Salisbury lies in Southwestern England , near the heart of the old West Saxon kingdom in pre-Norman Conquest times. This fact further strengthens my claim that the original recipe was a gift from Saxnot to his people, the Saxons, and one which clearly antedated the departure of the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes for Britain. Subsequent alterations to the dish are likely to be attributable to Celtic influence.


    "Then we are agreed. The traffic in hamburgers will be permitted but controlled, and Don Antonio will give our protection in the east and there will be the peace."

    :twisted: :roll: :wink:
    Antonius
    Alle Nerven exzitiert von dem gewürzten Wein -- Anwandlung von Todesahndungen -- Doppeltgänger --
    - aus dem Tagebuch E.T.A. Hoffmanns, 6. Januar 1804.
    ________
    Na sir is na seachain an cath.
  • Post #18 - June 8th, 2004, 11:02 am
    Post #18 - June 8th, 2004, 11:02 am Post #18 - June 8th, 2004, 11:02 am
    From a culinary history website:

    "J. H. Salisbury, a nineteenth-century English nutritionist, advocated a diet of lean meat. Salisbury Steak is a fried or broiled ground beef patty mixed with egg, breadcrumbs, onions, and seasonings. It is sometimes served with gravy."

    I had previously understood that Mr. Salisbury also advocated a diet of easily digestible foods and that he had patented or otherwise laid claim to a process for working over a tough cut, short of grinding, a la the Mexican maquinas that one sends one's arrachara through.

    At any rate, the Salisbury steak was "invented" and not too long ago.
  • Post #19 - June 8th, 2004, 11:36 am
    Post #19 - June 8th, 2004, 11:36 am Post #19 - June 8th, 2004, 11:36 am
    JeffB wrote:From a culinary history website:

    "J. H. Salisbury, a nineteenth-century English nutritionist, advocated a diet of lean meat... At any rate, the Salisbury steak was "invented" and not too long ago.


    Ah, Jeff, that's what they would have you think, but some scholars believe a Salisbury steak is depicted among the dead Anglo-Saxon warriors on the Bayeaux tapestry. There are also allegedly small carvings of Salisbury steaks on the walls of Winchester cathedral to be found by those who seek them. On the other hand, the story that they were brought to prehistoric Britain by aliens visiting Stone Henge is hardly believable. I stick by the Saxnot/Saxon connexion.

    A
    Alle Nerven exzitiert von dem gewürzten Wein -- Anwandlung von Todesahndungen -- Doppeltgänger --
    - aus dem Tagebuch E.T.A. Hoffmanns, 6. Januar 1804.
    ________
    Na sir is na seachain an cath.
  • Post #20 - June 8th, 2004, 1:41 pm
    Post #20 - June 8th, 2004, 1:41 pm Post #20 - June 8th, 2004, 1:41 pm
    Antonius wrote:
    JeffB wrote:From a culinary history website:

    "J. H. Salisbury, a nineteenth-century English nutritionist, advocated a diet of lean meat... At any rate, the Salisbury steak was "invented" and not too long ago.


    Ah, Jeff, that's what they would have you think, but some scholars believe a Salisbury steak is depicted among the dead Anglo-Saxon warriors on the Bayeaux tapestry. There are also allegedly small carvings of Salisbury steaks on the walls of Winchester cathedral to be found by those who seek them. On the other hand, the story that they were brought to prehistoric Britain by aliens visiting Stone Henge is hardly believable. I stick by the Saxnot/Saxon connexion.

    A


    I fear Herr Professor Antonius (Honorably Gefressen) has taken to tippling while posting, and offer this post into evidence.

    Next he will have us believe that Gyros was handed down from Mt. Olympus by the Gods. :shock:
    d
    Feeling (south) loopy
  • Post #21 - June 13th, 2004, 10:14 pm
    Post #21 - June 13th, 2004, 10:14 pm Post #21 - June 13th, 2004, 10:14 pm
    I am no expert on 30's style burgers, but I recently had lunch at a place in the SW burbs called Schoop's. It is in Hickory Hills on 95th St. just West of 294. They advertise fresh hand made burgers, and they were pretty good. The burger was fairly thin, hand formed, and seared with that nice crust and crispy edges. Good bun, decent Fries. all in all a good old school style burger. Next time I'll bring in my camera. Worth a look if you are down that way.

    Schoop's
    7847 W. 95th St.
    Hickory Hills
    708-598-9993
  • Post #22 - June 13th, 2004, 10:20 pm
    Post #22 - June 13th, 2004, 10:20 pm Post #22 - June 13th, 2004, 10:20 pm
    I think there are several of those in the Indiana Dunes/Michiana Shores area as well, and it is indeed an old chain. I keep meaning to try them...
  • Post #23 - June 13th, 2004, 10:41 pm
    Post #23 - June 13th, 2004, 10:41 pm Post #23 - June 13th, 2004, 10:41 pm
    atomicman wrote:I am no expert on 30's style burgers, but I recently had lunch at a place in the SW burbs called Schoop's.


    In the last two days, I've spotted Schoop's in Kalamazoo and Michigan City. They advertise "hand-shaped" burgers. Have not tried them.

    David
  • Post #24 - June 13th, 2004, 10:55 pm
    Post #24 - June 13th, 2004, 10:55 pm Post #24 - June 13th, 2004, 10:55 pm
    They advertise "hand-shaped" burgers.


    That's kind of weird. Do you bite the fingers off first?
    Last edited by Mike G on June 14th, 2004, 7:58 am, edited 1 time in total.
  • Post #25 - June 13th, 2004, 11:56 pm
    Post #25 - June 13th, 2004, 11:56 pm Post #25 - June 13th, 2004, 11:56 pm
    atomicman wrote:I am no expert on 30's style burgers, but I recently had lunch at a place in the SW burbs called Schoop's. It is in Hickory Hills on 95th St. just West of 294. They advertise fresh hand made burgers, and they were pretty good. The burger was fairly thin, hand formed, and seared with that nice crust and crispy edges. Good bun, decent Fries. all in all a good old school style burger. Next time I'll bring in my camera. Worth a look if you are down that way.

    Schoop's
    7847 W. 95th St.
    Hickory Hills
    708-598-9993


    I've eaten there many times. It is indeed the 30's style burger of which you speak. My only complaint about Shoop's is that the burgers are served on falling apart white bread-like buns that would benefit greatly from toasting. No amount of pleading at either of the Shoop's locations I've been to (the one on 95th and the one on Indianapolis Blvd in Hammond, IN.) have gotten them to toast the buns. They invaribly fall apart before the burger is done.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #26 - July 28th, 2004, 6:48 pm
    Post #26 - July 28th, 2004, 6:48 pm Post #26 - July 28th, 2004, 6:48 pm
    There was a short-lived Schoop's in the city at Lincoln and Irving Park. Very nice hand-formed burgers, cooked to order. They even made a nice chili-burger (cheeseburger+the usual condiments and toppings+chili [an occasional native-Texan craving].

    I know of which you speak. My hometown, Houston, has a generations-old joint (Rosnovsky's) that cooks the thinner burgers on a flat grill and serves them on soft buns, wrapped in butcher paper. Mmm. Time to drive back . . . .

    You might also try the South Loop Club (State and Balbo) and Charcoal Delight (Foster and Kedzie) for nice burgers, cooked to order over real charcoal.

    Then, there's my last resort: if I can't find it, I replicate it at home.

    Such as, for example, Oklahoma-style onion-burgers, but that's another post . . . .

    Wade
  • Post #27 - July 28th, 2004, 7:40 pm
    Post #27 - July 28th, 2004, 7:40 pm Post #27 - July 28th, 2004, 7:40 pm
    Charcoal Delights also has locations in Des Plaines and Grayslake.
  • Post #28 - July 28th, 2004, 8:32 pm
    Post #28 - July 28th, 2004, 8:32 pm Post #28 - July 28th, 2004, 8:32 pm
    hattyn wrote:Charcoal Delights also has locations in Des Plaines and Grayslake.


    While Charcoal Delights is good and deserves to be visited and enjoyed, I do not think they actually use charcoal anymore like they did when I was a kid. I'm pretty sure their grill is gas powered with lava rock briquets. Even so, like I said, it's a good burger (and fried (Broasted?) chicken, too).
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #29 - July 28th, 2004, 8:39 pm
    Post #29 - July 28th, 2004, 8:39 pm Post #29 - July 28th, 2004, 8:39 pm
    I was there approximately 5 months ago and whatever they used to make my cheesesteak it tasted very much like charcoal to me.
  • Post #30 - July 29th, 2004, 10:46 am
    Post #30 - July 29th, 2004, 10:46 am Post #30 - July 29th, 2004, 10:46 am
    I've only been to the location at Foster and Kedzie, but I can attest that they use charcoal. You can see the fire and the grill from the order counter, and witness the cooks occasionally stoking the fire with fresh lump charcoal.

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