[Sca-cooks] Burger battle brewing between Cponnecticut and Texas

Phil Troy / G. Tacitus Adamantius adamantius1 at verizon.net
Tue Jan 16 13:24:14 PST 2007

On Jan 16, 2007, at 3:49 PM, Susan Fox wrote:

> Saint Phlip wrote:
>> http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/01/16/burger.ap/index.html
>> Any of you food historians want to add to the confusion? Adamantius,
>> I'm sure you could prove they originated in NYC- you rather remind me
>> of Chekov sometimes ;-)
> Wikipedia has an article charting many conflicting claims.  One is  
> from
> New York state, anyway -- the city of Hamburg, of course.
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hamburger
> Selene

Chekov? I've never written a play in my life...

I'm not aware of any claim that the hamburger sandwich originates in  
New York City. There is indeed a Hamburger steak in Germany  
(presumably somebody's idea of a specialite de maison in Hamburg, and  
that somebody may or may not have even been in or from Hamburg). Some  
early recipes involve a slice of beef to be pounded to tenderize, and  
in some versions it was essentially damascened, either with marbled  
beef or a slice of beef topped with a slice of fat, pounded, folded  
into a square, and pounded again, repeatedly, until it is a squareish  
mass of pulp. Recipes of that type seem to occur at least as far back  
as the 1880's in American sources, with hand-chopped or scraped beef  
showing up a bit later.

Hamburger steaks eaten as a dinner entree (I mean, not as a sandwich  
filling) were quite common until at least the 1950's, and it was  
probably not until some time between the 1930's and the 1950's that  
the sandwich became the default presentation and "hamburger" stopped  
being used so often as an adjective to describe steaks or sandwiches.  
In this time period, BTW, the McDonald brothers opened their stand,  
and a famous cartoon appeared in The New Yorker Magazine, depicting a  
hamburger sandwich on sliced, white loaf-pan-type bread (with,  
apparently, lettuce), so presumably the concept of the bun was not  
yet standardized.

I'd bet money there's an entry on this in The Oxford Companion To  
American Food And Drink, which should be seeing publication any time  
now... Andrew Smith's been working on it for quite a while. Whether  
it settles the question of the birthplace of the hamburger sandwich,  
I can't say, but you'd think Connecticut and Texas would be far  
better off proving which one is _not_ responsible for that other  
great shared product they both claim as their own...


"S'ils n'ont pas de pain, vous fait-on dire, qu'ils  mangent de la  
brioche!" / "If there's no bread to be had, one has to say, let them  
eat cake!"
     -- attributed to an unnamed noblewoman by Jean-Jacques Rousseau,  
"Confessions", 1782

"Why don't they get new jobs if they're unhappy -- or go on Prozac?"
     -- Susan Sheybani, assistant to Bush campaign spokesman Terry  
Holt, 07/29/04

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