I’ve been in love with cheeseburgers since I was sixteen years old. (That’s nigh on four decades if you care to do the math.)
Not just eating them — making them.
During my formative years I apprenticed in the fine art of burger flipping at a café not much larger than my dining room is now. (Insert nostalgic sigh here.) Weekdays we catered to retired folks and truck drivers, but on the weekends — particularly after Friday night ball games — we were swamped with teenagers in search of sustenance.
Most of them ordered cheeseburgers.
The café was also known for its daily “blue plate specials” and massive breakfasts on Saturday and Sunday mornings, but there’s only so much room for tender recollections in one post. Suffice it to say that cheeseburgers made a huge impression on me… followed closely by truck drivers. ;)
During my over-the-road adventures years later, I discovered that I’d retained a cheeseburger “frame of reference” from the diner days of yore. Skinny lil’ burgers didn’t cut it for me; I craved classic burgers.
By classic, I’m talkin’ thick, hand-formed 100% beef patties seasoned and grilled to perfection with cheese dripping down the sides, plated with “the works” on a buttered, toasted bun, served with an order of fries (preferably larger than the circumference of a pencil) made out of real spuds.
I can’t begin to count the number of truck stops I bypassed that had succumbed to “fast food frenzy.” At the end of an 11-hour day I wanted (needed) to be served rather than stand in line at a counter waiting to pick up a plastic tray.
And/or plastic food…
To this day, cheeseburgers still set the bar. Whenever I visit a new restaurant (not very often), I’ll look over the menu, debate the selections, and nine-times-out-of-ten end up ordering a cheeseburger. If they can do that right, things bode well for a return trip to sample the rest of the menu. (Not all in one sitting, of course.)
Fast forward to dinner prep recently.
The Man Of Few Words was due home for dinner in 30 minutes and I had two options: 1) Turn a half-pound of ground beef and a couple of Idaho russets into cheeseburgers and fries, or 2) try something different.
Surprisingly, I opted for the latter.
The ensuing activity included washing, piercing, and tossing the spuds into the microwave (I would’ve preferred to bake them in the oven, but the clock was ticking…), slicing & dicing “the works” (lettuce, pickles, onions, and tomatoes), and sautéing the ground beef in a skillet.
Since time was of the essence, I made a couple of other executive decisions. Part of “the works” (tomatoes and onions) joined the skillet party, while the lettuce went for a carefree toss in a salad bowl. Pickles were reserved for garnish and Cheddar cheese was set aside for future consideration. Sliced or crumbled? Both!
Following a few grinds of the pepper mill and a sprinkle of classic burger seasoning (which, as far as I could I recall, consisted of celery salt, onion powder, and garlic powder) and voila! — dinner was ready. It took fifteen minutes to make with fifteen minutes to spare.
Hmmm… what to do with those extra minutes?
Play with the ketchup and mustard…
It’s said that we all remember things differently. Whenever The Man Of Few Words reminisces about our trucking days, he remembers routes. I remember cheeseburgers.
Long live love affairs of the foodie kind.
Enjoying cheeseburgers in paradise,
Which food do you fondly recall?
Note: Due to apparent popular demand, this post and photos were updated 11/17/13.