It’s not that I forgot (ok, yes I did forget…but that’s not the point) that it was Yom Kippur, but it’s just that I’m still new to the Jewish culture. After I came home from long hours of work preceded by short hours of sleep, the only thing that registered in my mind was ‘hungry’. Plus, wouldn’t you agree that a good burger beats a day of fasting and atoning? At least my Jewish husband agreed, so off we went to our favorite burger joint, Blue Dog Beer Tavern.
If you’re like me, I’m sure you’ve watched at least one episode of a show, most likely on the travel or food channel, that claim to have scoured the globe in search of the best hamburger around. Never left off the ultimate list is Louis’ Lunch in New Haven, Connecticut, which is reputed to be the originator of the American hamburger, serving them just as they did when Grover Cleveland was president (1895). In tribute to faceless and nameless genius, I honor whomever first transformed the original German hamburg steak into the classic American hamburger, because no matter how much American cuisine is elevated, I’ll stick to a good burger on the ground floor.
While I would love to, it’s impossible to eat burgers every day without buying heart medication in bulk at Costco. How about turkey or veggie burgers? Well, they’re fine, but do they really replace the aroma and taste of that charbroiled, juicy beef patty? I don’t know about you, but I’ve never salivated in anticipation when a piece of soy falls off my veggie patty and sizzles against the coals. By the same token, when I do splurge on the real thing, I want the best; not a 59 cent menu special that hopes melted cheese will cover up heinous beef sins. For this reason, I wish every neighborhood had a joint like the Blue Dog, where you can relax in a casual setting, with a great beer and an even better burger.
When I moved to America, my burger standards weren’t as high as they are today. Back then, I thought a diner burger was the best you could do. I’m sure you’re thinking you could do better than Denny’s at that place around the corner, but if you would have grown up in Japan like I did, you would have seen a dismal variety of burgers. We looked up to McDonald’s as being the perfect American burger, and modeled after that, opened our own Japanese burger chains. Since those unenlightened days, I’ve learned a lot about what makes one burger better than another. Most important, the best burger is the one that’s the least processed. Find a place that grinds their own meat and forms their own patties and you’re in business. Add grass fed instead of corn fed beef and you’ve really got something delicious. So, not having sinned too heavily this past year, I used this year’s day of atonement, Yom Kippur, to atone for all those lesser quality burgers I endured during the learning process. If you’re going to eat on a day devoted to fasting, at least eat something great. Blue Dog was the answer to my prayers!