There is the possibility that you may have somehow missed it, but apparently today is National Burger Day. This entirely ficticious event was created by Mr Hyde (the “daily email for men covering film, style, culture and places to eat meat” from Shortlist magazine) with the aim of bringing people together “to celebrate the delicious union of beef and bun” and to increase subscriptions to the Mr Hyde email service.
This is the second National Burger Day. To celebrate it last year, Shortlist went on a quest to find the UK’s best burger, where someone spends about three or four days at a time trying to find a new way to describe the experience of eating a hamburger without repeating themselves – like an episode of Man Vs Food presented by Raymond Queneau.
In recent years, the humble burger has experienced a rapid ascent. Just a few years ago, burgers were something which people would quite happily eat but felt no real need to discuss. A burger was a burger. It was served either in a polystyrene container or on a plate and you picked it up and ate it with your hands and all was well. Gradually though, the burger became a “thing”. Plates were replaced by wooden boards. Chips became served in small metal buckets. The fillings became more complicated. Wooden skewers were introduced, ignoring the fact that once scaffolding becomes required to hold your food together, it’s an obvious sign that something has gone wrong with your dinner. People began cutting their burgers in half before eating them. The world would never be the same again.
Society’s newfound determination to fetishise the burger beyond all fucking reason reached its climax last July when branches of American burger chains Five Guys and Shake Shack opened in London in the same week. People (grown adults, presumably with jobs and lives and responsibilities) queued overnight for the meaningless accolade of being able to eat a burger a bit before someone else got to eat their burger. Around the same time, we were treated to the rather unedifying spectacle of seeing a man who earns £134,565 a year being pilloried for eating food bought from a mid-range burger chain. In a cynical attempt to make people feel sympathetic towards the Chancellor, The Sun pretended to think that it was outrageous for George Osborne to spend £6.75 on a burger from Byron rather than buy a 99p cheeseburger from McDonalds, when everyone knows that those burgers from McDonalds aren’t very filling and you’d need to eat at least two anyway. The burger incident came about because the Chancellor had tweeted a photo of himself eating the burger as a way of trying to trick people into thinking that he eats normal human food, when in reality, George Osborne dislocates his jaw to devour live prey whole through a process called cranial kinesis.
I accidentally watched an episode of the American sitcom How I Met Your Mother recently on E4. I had never seen the series before, so I couldn’t tell if this particular episode was better or worse than any other programme in the series. However, the episode I saw was so bad that after it ended, I waited for half an hour so I could watch it again on E4+1 just to check if it really was as bad as I’d originally thought and then after I watched it for a second time, I immediately bought it on DVD:
The series follows the main character, Ted Mosby, and his group of friends in Manhattan. As a framing device, Ted, in the year 2030, recounts to his son and daughter the events that led to his meeting their mother.
The episode I saw was called The Best Burger In New York. In the episode, the main characters are sitting in a bar and trying to decide what to eat. The waitress tells them that the bar has introduced a new burger to the menu and so they decide to try it. One of the characters, Robin, is extraordinarily hungry having not eaten for two days, although unfortunately her burger arrives late. She sits enviously watching her friends as they all start eating. This is supposed to be funny, although just suggests that her friends are awful people. They didn’t even offer her some chips. I don’t even think that there’s anything different about any of the burgers, they don’t seem to ask for additional toppings or ask for it to be cooked rare or medium or whatever. They just ignore their starving friend.
Apparently, it’s a really good burger, but another character, Marshall, isn’t too impressed because he once had a better burger when he first moved to New York, however he has never been able to find the place since and the burger haunts his dreams, like a beef Moby Dick. He then tells a very long story about this burger which takes the form of a flashback. The episode then turns into what I imagine is an accidental pastiche of The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, though without the discreet charm, as the group try to track down this totemic burger by visiting different places. They order more burgers, and each time Robin’s doesn’t arrive, but her self-obsessed, sociopathic friends ignore her. Leave them, Robin. They don’t care about you. They aren’t your friends. Kill them, Robin. Kill them and eat them.
Eventually, they find the place and are all able to enjoy this incredible burger, and Marshall is able to find peace after eight years of searching for the burger of his dreams. It seems odd that he had never mentioned this story to any of his friends. That at no point prior to this had the subject of burgers ever come up in conversation. Given that the premise of the show is that Ted is telling his children the story of how he met their mother, it also seems odd that he would spend so much time talking in extensive detail about a burger that one of his friends once ate. I can only begin to imagine how much his children must regret asking him how he met their mum. I bet they hate him.