The Alchemy of Meat

“I want a hamburger. A really good hamburger.”

This is me, talking to psu.

“Go to Tessaro’s. They have the best burgers in town.”

That’s psu, talking to me.

But Tessaro’s doesn’t have the best burgers in town. In the abstract, yes, a Tessaro’s burger is almost the platonic ideal of a great hamburger. The meat is cooked perfectly, over a wood fire. It’s big and juicy. It’s perfect. Except…

Except they don’t have french fries. Therefore, their perfect burger sucks. This is, perhaps, an entirely pre-rational belief. Obviously, I don’t really think that the Tessaro’s burger sucks qua sucks. But when I crave a hamburger, when I need a hamburger, that’s not a mere desire for a certain type of food. It’s a spiritual thing; it’s the quest for the Great American Hamburger. And listen, the Great American Hamburger does not come with potato salad. It does not come with disgusting, soggy home fries that are some sort of punishment for all my former sins. It does not come with broccoli and cauliflower.

The Great American Hamburger comes with french fries, and anything else is second rate.

This is beyond issues of mere taste. It is magical, alchemical: even bad french fries make a good burger taste better. It’s just like transubstantiation, except it actually improves your life.

We ended up going to the new burger joint (part of a chain) called “Five Guys”, in Oakland. They made a good burger – very good. The meat was thin and cooked through, but still juicy. The buns weren’t too big. They had fried onions, and good relish, and good mushrooms, and other things to put on the burger. It wasn’t as good as the $11 burger at Eleven. But then, it didn’t cost $11, either. And, most importantly, they had french fries.

Their fries weren’t that good, but they were there, and that made their very good burger taste better than Tessaro’s great-but-fryless burger would have.

What I somehow need to do is convince Tessaro’s and Dee’s to open up a shack somewhere midway between the two places. They’d serve Tessaro’s burgers, and Dee’s fries, and they would make a million dollars every night.

But until then, see you at Five Guys.