To Serve People? Burgers. (5)

It’s 1 AM, and we’re in the living room of the cheapest apartment at the end of the furthest TTC bus line. Ash and Cam, two first-year culinary school students, sit amongst the Thrift Town plush of their living room and decompress with a (legal) Canadian joint after work at their externship downtown. It’s time to turn on some music.

Tonight we’re listening to NOFX’s album “First Ditch Effort”

“Burgers and chuck. There’s a part of me that feels like chuck is the wrong way to go for a burger. Offal, yes. Face meat too. But chuck — I don’t like it.” Said Cam.

“Hm. I dunno about offal, but gotta’ be chuck.” replied Ash.

“Says whom?”

“A lot of people. I think it’s even in that book ‘The Hamburger’ by Joshua Ozersky.”

“Fuuuck him. I read that book. He delegitimizes his authority the moment he said a burger isn’t a burger if it comes on toasted bread. He has too many rules about what a hamburger is.”

“You can disagree with him, but there need to be parameters on what a burger is, no?”

“Whatever Mr. Parameters. You’re the one who says a hamburger isn’t a ‘sandwich.’”

“Yes. I have parameters. Look. If I ground up ham and put it on a bun, would that be a hamburger? The name almost implies that that’s what it is. But if you came into my burger shop, ordered a hamburger, and I gave you a burger made of ham, you’d object.”

“Damn right. Hm. But I mean, is something, still that something, if it doesn’t conform exactly to one person’s idea of that something?”

“You lost me. Are you asking if you can call it a burger if it doesn’t fit the definition of a burger? If that’s your question, the answer is no.”

“But who decided on the definition of a burger?”

“The guy who made the first burger.”

“No one knows who made the first burger! Which means that a ‘burger’ is really just a ‘burger’ by consensus. No one person can declare a burger — a burger — it has to be agreed upon by the majority of eaters.”

“What you’re saying is that every possible permutation that might be a burger, has to be agreed upon as a society to be called, or not called, a burger?”

“Wait. Yes? Yes. That is what I am saying. Here. Let’s think about this. Someone more than 100 years ago stuck ground beef into a bun, gave it to a customer, and we had the first burger. Right?”

“Yes.”

“What if, hypothetically, the next day, the first hamburger customer came back, but this time the chef got creative and made the same thing but this time shoved lettuce, tomato, onion, and pickle on it.”

“Ok”

“The customer hates it. It’s not the same thing! Therefore, at that point, it’s not a burger.”

“Huh.”

“But then ten years later some other schmo shoves lettuce, tomato, onion, and pickle on a ‘burger.’ This time everyone loves it. Now that’s become what a burger is, right? The salad on top doesn’t turn it into a Lett-o-beef Sandwich! We all agree that this is now a burger!”

“Lett-o-beef Sandwich?”

“Tomonion & Picklepuss sandwich sounded ridiculous.”

“Huh.”

“Huh.”

“I’d watch a show called Picklepuss & Chuck.”

This is a continuing story inspired by Vik, the terrible 1986 flick “Hamburger: The Motion Picture,” and the fascinating 1990 film “Mindwalk.”


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