The Emperor’s New Burger


Shaking off the cobwebs of a grinder of a summer, I remembered that I hadn’t posted a new entry for a while.  So after contemplating a lunch I had with one of the few people I work with who has made active mention of the Bear Feed (I’m talking about you Ritchie), I thought that lunch could lead to a concept that I have been chewing over the last few days.

It starts with the story about The Emperor’s New Clothes.  This is a short tale by Hans Christian Andersen about two weavers who promise an emperor a new suit of clothes that is invisible to those who are unfit for their positions, stupid, or incompetent. When the Emperor parades before his subjects in his new clothes, no one dares to say that they don’t see any suit of clothes until a child cries out, “But he isn’t wearing anything at all!”

I cite this story a fair bit, at least in my own head, when trying to challenge things that are based on other’s opinions.  You get it a lot these days, probably as much in politics than anything, but I don’t come here to blog about politics.  I tend to challenge these concepts a lot because I’m not someone who likes taking anyone’s opinion on anything I can’t believe for myself.  I find myself saying something like “Is it that way because it is that way?  Or is it that way because someone told me it was that way?”  Proud of my own cynical mindset, I pat myself on the back, call myself smart, then solve all the world’s problems in my head.

Then there I was at lunch, and I caught myself on the other side of the issue.

We went to Ted’s – a famous burger joint in Meriden, CT.  It’s been on shows like “Man vs. Food” and been listed in the top 50 burger places in the country by the Food Network.  What makes it famous is the way they cook the food there.  Ground beef is placed into rectangular trays and placed into a steamer to cook.  When it’s ready, the meat is still juicy because none of the fat fries off.  Cheese gets the same treatment and is literally melted and poured directly onto the burger until is ooey gooey’s up on top.  I got mine with a side of home fries, which was baked and gently fried potato wedges.  Being a burger of such high proclaim, you expect it to be really good.  As I was having the burger I kept thinking how much the unique cooking method of everything added something special that put this burger up there with such high acclaim.  The cheese in all it’s gooeyness didn’t hide the flavor of the meat with it’s cheesy flavor.  The beef took to an extra bit of salt and a good bit of mustard really well.  The fries had that starchy potato taste like right after you give it a good cut.  I walked out of lunch today satisfied that I had such a well renowned burger.

That’s when it hit me …

The cheese didn’t hide the meat’s flavor because … well … it didn’t have much of a flavor.

Come to think of it, neither did the meat.  When you steam a burger like that, you can’t put any seasoning on it – so it really tasted bland.  Not in a bad way, just … not favorable.

And if I was making potatoes at home, and it tasted starchy like those home fries tasted, I would wonder if I actually cooked them thru.

That’s when it sunk in on me.  It wasn’t a bad meal.  It’s a reasonably priced lunch in a neat little joint, with a cool way of doing the old stuff in a good way.  If given the option to go back, I would go back to Ted’s.  It just wasn’t … I don’t know … not ‘Top 50 burgers in the USA’ good.

So why did, during lunch, I started thinking I had one of the best burgers in my life?

Come to think about it … what is the best burger I had in my life?

Then I really started thinking … does it really matter what is the best or not?

What the realization all came down to was that I was noticing how judgmental all of this can be.  It seems like, sometimes we get so caught up in what our opinions are, we want then to make it about how others opinions aren’t as important as ours.  We get angry, frustrated, over zealous.  Then we try to impress that on others in hopes that we will convince them to see things our way – but all it really does it creates more pushback, more anger, more hate.

Then I realized … It’s just a burger, and Ritchie paid for it anyway.


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