Speak Up

Sunday, June 24, 2007

A Lesson in Burger History

When you’re a chef’s wife you often ask yourself, “What am I going to do on a Saturday night?” So you grab your cell and round up the local wives and friends in an attempt to take over the city.

After hours of lying in the hot sun of Central Park’s Sheep’s Meadow and watching fellow sun bathers attempt a semi-wet slip and slide we hear the growl of our stomachs. Again we find ourselves lying -this time on a couch munching on old chocolate Easter eggs (in June) and some original flavor Kashi TLC crackers. We finally decide on dinner: burgers. Totally a casual night so we end up at P.J. Clarke’s at Lincoln Square where we have heard good things about their burgers. A little corporate-but who isn’t these days. Really now, who isn’t? Even the great chefs once revered in yesteryears have sold their souls just as a young Dick and Mac McDonald did in 1955.

Seated at a red and white checkered table (now red and pink from too many rounds with the washing machine) we sip our beers and skim the menu for this famous burger. And thanks to our burger-educated server Dustin Olson we gained the history of a P.J. Clarke’s hamburger. And please correct me if I am wrong, Dustin. It was not until the 60s that a new burger, known as a ‘California burger’ were served with lettuce and tomato. Until then, a burger came only with a large raw onion slice on the bottom to prevent the greasy burger from weakening the paper plates-oh, and a dill pickle on the side, ah. Since P.J. Clarke’s prides itself on its 129 year old history they stick to the original burger/onion set-up.

Apparently there is shame in requesting lettuce and tomato on a P.J. Clarke’s burger, but Dustin acquiesced as two of us ordered the extra forbidden fruit and vegetable combo. After all, we were born years and years after the 60s, can you blame us? To our somewhat surprise another server walked by, in the most dead pan manner, reminding us of the shame we created with a lettuce and tomato dowsed burger. Ouch.

Ok, so the burgers: cooked perfectly as we requested. Juicy and delish as well. Of course the best part was the history behind it. Snaps to Dustin for bringing history alive and giving attention to these Desperate ChefsWives on a Saturday night.

For the complete history of P.J. Clarke's visit: http://www.pjclarkes.com/

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