There are many good things to say about the food in Australia. The freshness of the produce, the astonishing quality of the Asian and Indian restaurants, and Chicken Twisties are only a few.
However, in the deadly serious matter of hamburgers, this country falls sadly short.
I’m not even talking about the accessories and condiments on the burger, although the ever-present slice of beetroot is an abomination worthy of a war-crime trial at the Hague. I’m talking about the beef patty itself.
Here is what a quality hamburger patty should contain:
Maybe a sprinkle of ground black pepper
AND THAT IS GODDAMNED IT.
Australian burger cooks feel the inexplicable need to deface their hamburgers with spices, herbs, onions, mushrooms, and all other manner of extraneous crap. It absolutely ruins the primal meatiness that is a good burger’s raison d’être. Once you add all that stuff to a hamburger, it ceases to be a hamburger and becomes meatloaf. And if I wanted meatloaf, I’d order meatloaf.
Another hamburger error is overcooking. Burgers here are usually cooked until they are the texture of linoleum floor tiles. Requests for medium-rare or even medium burgers are denied. Check out some of the comments in this SMH thread about Sydney’s best pub burgers:
- So you eat undercooked mince meat in America where you have a far higher chance of being infected with e-coli from beef? No thankyou!
- The problem is that there is a much higher risk of food poisoning with undercooked mince meat, and for a very good reason….
- …while it may taste better, it’s not worth the risk…
- One day those who like it rare will wake up to the risk they are taking every time they bite into a piece of meat….you want it rare than eat fish otherwise you are just playing russian roulette with your meat…
Yes, the risk is marginally higher for less-cooked meat. Yes, I am an adult who knows the risk and takes it into account. No, it shouldn’t be a worry for first-world capital-city restaurants with good food hygiene practices. No, you are not playing Russian Roulette by eating a medium-rare burger. Yes, I’d prefer to eat a cricket ball than another dried-out, overseasoned meat lump.
How do I like my burger? Medium-rare, with good melted cheese, crispy streaky bacon (bacon…that’s another rant for another day), on a lightly toasted, buttered bun. A little ketchup and maybe a little mustard, but not both at once. (No mayonnaise, and whatever condiment used should not glop out in unsightly dribbles when eaten.) If there are crunchy fried onions available, big plus. I don’t like lettuce, tomato, pickles, or raw onions on my burger. The beef should be 10-15% fat. Any fattier and it’s greasy (and not in a good way): any leaner and it’s dry.