Maybe you know, maybe you don’t, but May is National Hamburger Month.
That definitely strikes a pleasant chord in my realm, because as I’ve said in the past, if I was stranded on a desert island and had only one choice of food, it would be cheeseburgers.
The exact origin of the hamburger is debatable. The Library of Congress credits a Danish immigrant named Louis Lassen – who owned Louis’ Lunch in New Haven, Conn. – as the creator of the hamburger as we know it. But some historians believe the popular American staple was invented by a cook in a small town in Texas who placed a Hamburg steak between two slices of bread, while others credit White Castle restaurants founder Walt Anderson for developing the “Hamburger Sandwich.”
But regardless of when and where the hamburger came to be, I’m just glad it did. I mean, it’s like the perfect form of sustenance, with ingredients from pretty much every food group, including meat, grain, vegetable and fruit (remember, tomato is a fruit). And speaking of meat, I don’t consider anything other than a burger made with beef to be a burger. Nope, when chicken, turkey or some form of plant material goes between the buns, those are sandwiches, not burgers.
And what I like best about burgers is they can vary widely in their constitution and construction, but are (almost) always worth consuming. Having lived on the West Coast, in the Deep South and in the Midwest, I’ve seen my share of different burgers, including those garnished with everything from avocado, to cole slaw (man, a good Georgia slaw burger is heavenly) and goat cheese, or piled high with savory partners like bacon (of course), pulled pork or sauteed onions. And I’ve rarely been disappointed.
I’ve always enjoyed trying burgers in new places, and during my travels around Burger World I’ve come across some seriously memorable versions. But perhaps the one I recall most vividly was served at Effie’s in Lewiston, Idaho.
Effie’s was one of those long-and-thin whole-in-the-wall kinds of places in the downtown section of the city located across the Snake River from Southeast Washington. It was run by a nice old lady whose name was on the sign, and several of my friends and I loved making the one-hour trip from Pullman during our college days at Wazzu.
At first sight, an Effie Burger meal was a wonder to behold, because the burger and fries were served on separate plates due to the fact that the burger covered one of them. Yep, an Effie Burger was the size of a dinner plate.
But the Effie experience wasn’t all about size, because the dang thing was about as succulent as a burger can get. Thankfully, the patty wasn’t super thick, because the challenge of eating the whole thing was already very real.
But man, meeting that challenge was like being immersed in burger ecstasy, because everything about The Effie was top-notch, from the huge portion of Idaho Panhandle ground beef to the Walla Walla Sweet onions, the locally-made cheddar cheese and the gigantic homemade bun.
I’m getting’ hungry thinking about it.
Anyway, I can’t think of a food more deserving of its own month than the hamburger. There’s no better edible option in my opinion, no matter how you cook them (although grilling is best) or what you stack upon on them.
Except anchovies. That would be wrong.
Doug Davison is a writer, photographer and newsroom assistant for the Houston Herald. Email: email@example.com.