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My Secret Love

by Jean McGuire in My life

Heaven on earth with an onion slice; Not too particular, not too precise; I’m just a cheeseburger in paradise.” Cheeseburger in paradise, Jimmy Buffet, 1978

Most people will wax poetic about the love of their life. They can extol the virtues of their beloved in lyrical terms using creative phrasing to try to capture the perfection of their love. While I have certainly known, and loved, my share of men, I have to confess that the love that currently flames my passion is of a more prosaic nature:  I cannot get enough of a good ol’ American Cheeseburger.

Valentines is upon us and even though I haven’t had a Valentine for a while, I seem to vaguely remember a time when people wrote poems to honor the love of their life. In homage to that sentiment, I have written a number of poems dedicated to my one true love. You’ll find them scattered throughout this post, much like Cupid scatters his arrows this time of year. I hope one or more of them strikes your heart, or at least, strikes your fancy.

The history of the “good ol’ American Cheeseburger” is not as easy as ordering one. Many a restaurant and cook, or their family, have  laid claim to originating the various aspects of this mouth-watering delight. A basic cheeseburger has three layers: the burger, the bun and the cheese. Researching the history of the cheeseburger breaks down into the same three categories.

The Burger

 Like many “American” foods, the hamburger has a German ancestry. 

“…when political revolutions shook the 39 states of the German Confederation, spurring an increase in German immigration to the United States. With German people came German food: beer gardens flourished in American cities, while butchers offered panoply of traditional meat preparations. Because Hamburg was known as an exporter of high-quality beef, restaurants began offering a “Hamburg-style” chopped steak.” 

First taste of grilled meat

Juice dripping down my fingers

Eyes closed, a smile forms

The Bun

Who first put this chopped steak on a bun? No one knows for sure, but it was a brilliant idea. The addition of a bun to the grilled delight allowed America to indulge in their craving for hamburgers while staying on the move as society became more and more mobile.

Lunch wagons, fair stands and roadside restaurants in Wisconsin, Connecticut, Ohio, New York and Texas have all been put forward as possible sites of the hamburger’s birth. Whatever its genesis, the burger-on-a-bun found its first wide audience at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair…” 

The circle of golden bun

Spotted with white sesame seeds 

Embraces the patty of beef

Allowing the glowing mustard

To drip down it’s sides

While the ketchup lays

Ruby red where it was placed

The Cheese

Who first put a golden slice of cheese on a juicy patty of meat? Much like the hamburger itself, there are several claims to this.

“Adding cheese to hamburgers became popular in the late-1920s to mid-1930s, and there are several competing claims as to who created the first cheeseburger.” 

Classic American

Heavenly bleu cheese

Exquisite gouda

Enticing monteray jack

Spicy pepperjack

Every flavor delightful

A cheeseburger is an uncomplicated partner in a relationship. It brings you its best without question or demands. It does not need to be fed or watered in order to survive. It arrives on your plate, ready to give you it’s all. Now, there are times when it doesn’t always agree with you if you rush the process or don’t savor the moment, but that’s the price you have to pay for your own hastiness.

We all pay a high price for the gastronomical pleasure of today’s restaurant cheeseburgers. A typical restaurant style cheeseburger is approximately 500-1000 calories, depending on size and condiments and the French fries that typically accompany a cheese burger are approximately 200-600 calories. Eating a cheeseburger involves a hefty commitment to indulgence when you realize this adds up to an average of 700-1600 calories for a typical cheeseburger meal. It feels even more indulgent when you consider the average salad runs around 300-600 calories with dressing running approximately 50-200 calories, depending on type.

There once was a lady named Jean

Who worked awfully hard to be lean

But burgers would beckon

Tomorrow she’d reckon

And today she’d eat like a teen.

I can close my eyes and picture the look of the hamburger with the bun glistening, tomatoes and lettuce draping over the edge promising so much pleasure. I can take a deep breath and imagine inhaling the odor of the grilled meat laced with the pungent smell of onion. My mouth starts watering at even the thought of the taste of all the different toppings melding together on my tongue. 

Some people prefer their burger nicely grilled,

Some people prefer their burger butter fried,

I like them either way, they both leave me thrilled

There are those who like their burger served bare, 

There are those who like their burger served loaded,

I like my burgers with all the cook can spare.

How you dress my burger I do not care,

I love knowing burgers are in my life,

I will order them almost anywhere.

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