My Life in Hamburgers

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

In playing the classic drinking game "Never Have I Ever," my old standby was, "Never have I ever eaten a hamburger." I'd sit in smug satisfaction as I watched people's reactions: "What? Never? Are you a vegetarian or something?!" & when I told them no, never, & yes, I do eat other meat, I couldn't help but smile as their mouths fell open in surprise. Apparently, meat-eaters who don't eat hamburgers are HUGE FREAKS.

I don't have a good reason for why I never tried a hamburger as a child beyond this simple one: I just didn't want to. Hot dogs appealed to me. Chicken nuggets appealed to me. And yet hamburgers... just never appealed to me. I'm not kidding when I tell you that I used to order grilled cheese from McDonald's. Yeahhh, that's not on the menu.

Flash forward to June 2011, when I decided that the time had come. I wanted to eat a hamburger. I don't know where my inspiration came from, but it had finally come, & after all these years, I wasn't about to deny it. On a visit home to Ohio, Nathan & I made a special trip to Swenson's, a local chain once voted "America's Best Burger" by Forbes. Everyone said my first burger absolutely had to come from Swenson's, & as a loyal Ohioan, I wasn't about to forgo my roots.

It was... fine. It definitely wasn't the meaty nightmare that Childhood Kate imagined, but Adult Kate didn't really feel the need to eat another burger ever again, either. I had tried it; that was enough.

And then, this March, I traveled to Phoenix for my friends' wedding. At the afterparty (it's the remix to ignition, hot & fresh out the kitchen), someone's dad popped by with a box full of In 'N' Out Burgers of varying topping arrangements. In 'N' Out, the West Coast's holy grail of hamburgers - how could I resist? It had been nearly a year since my first & only hamburger, & I decided I couldn't let this unique opportunity pass me by.

It was better than the first one. Like, way better. Sorry, Ohio. But was that just because I was post-wedding buzzed? (Which is to say, actually buzzed?) I couldn't tell; I had to know. The next day, on our way out of town, my coworker Sean & I made a stop at In & Out's drive-thru, where we shocked the employee who served us by admitting that we'd never been to an In & Out before. "We're from the East Coast!" we insisted by way of explanation. Sean ordered his burger animal-style; I ordered a plain old cheeseburger, & boy, was I excited to eat it.

That day, it became official: I became a person who eats hamburgers. Since then, I have indulged in Shake Shack & McDonald's burgers, too, & most recently, Boston Burger Co., where my friends & I agonized over which burgers would be best. After much debate, I settled on the Mac Attack, topped with four-cheese macaroni & cheese & a heap of bacon. This was the healthiest thing our group ordered, if you can believe it.

Guys. It's official. I'm a hamburger person now - & damnnnn, it feels delicious!

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