I remember one of my first burgers.
I was about 10 years old and there was a neighborhood corner store around the block. It was located on the bottom floor of a duplex apartment in Northeast, Philadelphia. The store was called Cukors. It was run by an old married couple who had a thick German accent. They sold everything and they had a counter with stools as well as a soda bar.
I remember their pizza burgers on a soft Kaiser roll. It was damn delicious. Back then it cost about a dollar. I remember the thick, juicy patty with pizza sauce and mozzarella cheese. It was dreamy.
Then I remember the Burger King burger that I used to get frequently after school and sometimes during lunch. This Burger King was right across the street from Northeast High School. When the students weren’t in school they were getting burgers. The burgers were charbroiled and pretty good–but what did a high school kid know about good food. Back then, in the 70’s, it was McDonalds and Burger King ruling the fast food market in Philadelphia.
When I moved to Hazleton to start my senior year of high school, I used to go to McDonalds a lot and get their quarter-pounder with cheese. Unfortunately, the burgers were greasy and, after each burger, it seemed I had a major acne break out. Needless to say I cut down eating those quarter-pounders and, at the same time, saw a dermatologist for my acne.
By college my acne cleared up. I began to avoid burgers and meat. I realized that I had a gluten allergy and I stayed away from bread. Back then, the hamburger places didn’t have lettuce wraps or gluten free rolls. So if I would get a burger I would just ask for one without a bun or get something else like a gluten-free veggie burger.
I did not touch any hamburgers during the years that followed college. I even attended an animal rights protest outside of a McDonalds at State College.
It was a few years ago that things started to change for me. I moved to California from Pennsylvania.
I was a vegetarian for a few years and I was doing relatively well with it. Then I was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis and felt the need to add more protein to my diet. I had noticed that California had some great hamburger places, legendary in fact. My girlfriend and others kept talking about one in particular, In-N-Out.
So one day I tried an In-N-Out protein burger (lettuce wrap)–and loved it. It was so tasty that I instantly became a believer. They have quality meat patties–fresh and not greasy–and they know how to make a lettuce wrap! I wrote about this mind-blowing experience, entitled A Vegetarian Jonesing for a Hamburger. I invite you to read it.
Even TV foodie, Anthony Bourdain, goes bonkers over these burgers.