'In many of life's moments, a great burger is the only thing that's called for'
Childhood summers spent in Queens in New York meant that my little fingertips were often wrapped around a burger hot off the barbecue.
Photos of my siblings and I tucking into floury buns and burgers from Sunnyside’s Butcher’s Block, our faces smeared in ketchup, remain as evidence of those barbecue happy summer evenings. My love of the classic has only grown fonder as I’ve grown up, despite the shift in continent.
The burgers I enjoyed throughout my childhood were simple and followed a very straightforward formula. They were always cooked more than well-done (we didn’t even know to have notions of medium), were served up in a simple white bun, with iceberg lettuce, a slice of tomato, raw onion and a squirt of ketchup. It was the most perfect supper imaginable in the garden’s August heat.
While my parents’ formula never strays, it hasn’t stopped me universally enjoying every burger that comes my way in a city like Dublin, of which there is many.
Upon arriving here fresh from university, eyes widened in delight when I spotted my first Jo’Burger heading towards our table in Castle Market, embellished so sky-high that I had to cut it into quarters for fear I’d break my jaw trying to get my gob around it.
Many valiant attempts to make a dent in those burgers were embarked upon by my friends and I during that first year in Dublin and it was the perfect place to spend the little of what was left of our lowly intern wages. While I feel as though I have outgrown it slightly now, those burgers are definitely associated with happy memories of that time.
I have trekked all over the city in pursuit of great burgers and have had countless wonderful experiences. In 2013, after a day spent in the rain setting up a stall at Taste of Dublin my colleagues and I ventured to Camden Street’s Against the Grain, where the most perfect beef burger arrived in front of us with sides of sweet potato fries. Alongside a pint of Galway Hooker, I couldn’t think of anything I would have rathered eat in that moment.
More recently, I became caught up in commotion occurring in Drury Street’s Super Miss Sue, where they were dishing out scrumptious fish and chicken burgers for a €1. I completely altered arranged plans with a friend to instead drag him towards yet another burger, but the level on which I enjoyed the crispy fillet of cod, covered in cheese, and tartare sauce in a brioche bun can not adequately be described without drooling.
Last night, my friend who I had not seen properly in ages popped over and I had all the makings of that great burger of my childhood in my kitchen. Delicious sourdough to blitz into breadcrumbs, great mince beef and fresh herbs that needed using up. I had fresh floury baps, the iceberg lettuce, slices of cheddar, plump tomatoes and the bite of raw onion. I banged on some oven chips and we sat down with yet another burger, perfect in its simplicity.
After all my research, both in the kitchen and outside it, I have never found something that pleases a crowd of people like scrumptious burgers.
I may not pose with a ketchup smeared face as easily as I did when I was a child but I can't help but feel that I had it right all along. There is little that compares with the perfect burger and in many of life's moments, it is the only thing that's called for.