It was a standard staple on the weekly dinner menu at our house when I was a kid. Every Wednesday we would have burgers. My mother was very routine oriented for most of the week (since she worked outside the home, she had to plan out meals that could either be put together ahead of time or could be put together quickly). I guess that's where I got a lot of my own routine approach to things. Now, my mom's burgers were okay but not something I really loved. I think it was how she put them together (being Italian she mixed the meat with egg and other stuff that gave it a different taste).
No, I think my love for burgers came on those rare occasions we ate out. As a kid in the 70's, we maybe got McDonald's a couple times a year - usually during the summer for dinner on a night my parents were going out. We also would go out to the country club as a family once a month during the winter, usually on a Friday night. While everyone was having fish fry, I would savor the cheeseburger and steak fries they served. Of course, this always was a point of contention during Lent. I was a little Catholic rebel then. My take was this: show me exactly in the Bible where it said I had to not eat meat on Fridays and I wouldn't do it. Guess who won? Yeah, I got to savor those wonderful burgers.
Burgers became more of a diet staple for me during college. On nights that I didn't like the main entree selection, I could always go to the grill line and get a burger. That usually happened a couple nights a week. And for the few years after college when I was single, grabbing a burger here are there was a quick and easy option as opposed to cooking for one. Time of day didn't matter. Some of the best burgers were at 2am, gotten from the late night drive-thru window at Hardee's after a night out at the clubs.
When my wife was pregnant with our son, she couldn't stand the smell of food cooking in the house. So, I had to run out and get take-out a lot during that period. For some reason, milkshakes from Hardee's and cheeseburgers from McDonald's seemed to keep her stomach from revolting too much. That was the summer of the third Batman movie (the one with Jim Carey as the Riddler and Tommy Lee Jones as Two-Face). Since I was running to the arches every night, I was eating quite a few of these triple patty sandwiches they were selling for the film tie-in. Yeah, I think that's where I gained all my sympathy-pregnancy-weight.
On the whole McDonald's vs. Burger King debate, I'm going with Ronald and company. I just love a Quarter Pounder with cheese, and Micky D's fries are simply the best. I never really got into BK's flame-broiled taste; if it is my only choice then I'll settle - but I'd chose a non-burger place to eat first.
I try to watch how often I have burgers now that I'm over 40. When they went in for my heart surgery a few years back, they let me know I didn't have any build up to be cleaned up. So, I figure why make more trouble, right? Still, a really good burger every now and again is always a welcome treat.
Like Jimmy Buffett sings: I like mine with lettuce and tomato. I'll throw on onion, pickles and some mayo. Definitely paradise.
Other burger favorite places I haven't mentioned yet: Wendy's (love that square patty), In-And-Out Burger (when I'm in southern California), build your own burger places like Fat Daddy's and Fuddrucker's, Raleigh's famous Char-Grill (a must-eat stop every time we're in our old stomping grounds), Five Guys Famous Burgers (we had some in Kill Devil Hills, NC, on our vacation earlier this summer - they have franchises all up and down the East Coast), Backyard Burger (another chain) and BT's Burger Joint (a local Hickory place that just opened up).
Hmm, I think I'll get a burger tonight for dinner. Mmmmmm.