When we were young, our mothers prepared and cooked most of our meals, if not all of them. It was good, old-fashioned home cooking.
It was also bland, predictable meat and three vegetables, but we had to clean our plates, in defence of starving African children who did not enjoy our privileges of Brussels sprouts and silverbeet. We were never game enough to advise our mothers to send our vegetables to Africa, to those unfortunate children.
We had to ask to be excused from the family dinner table, after a lovely home-baked sweet or steamed pudding. To my mother’s horror, my sisters and I grew up to meet potential suitors, who had ‘wheels’. We were driven away to discover takeaway food! It seemed that every suburb way back then had a hamburger bar and a fish and chip shop.
We would head off on our ‘date’, in search of… The perfect hamburger! It seems so silly now, upon reflection, but we used to rate hamburgers from one burger bar to the next.
I am not talking about current versions, plastic food from the golden arches. No, the traditional great Australian hamburger. First, a white roll, toasted, buttered or not, a bed of shredded lettuce, placed over barbecue or tomato sauce, grilled sliced tomato, fried chopped onions, bacon, cheese, a fried egg, a patty of minced meat seared on a hotplate of questionable, varying degrees of hygiene. Of course, no great Australian hamburger was complete without that missing vital magic ingredient — beetroot!
All this was guaranteed to mess whatever we were wearing. We accompanied this burger delight with either steamed or fried dim sims, drenched in soy sauce, or a fried Chiko roll. These were regarded by us as Chinese food, in some kind of warped Australian thought process. Our drinks for the repast were a chocolate malted milkshake, whisked to perfection in a steel flask, or a can of Coca-Cola or Fanta, full of chemicals and sugar. Basically, anything we spilt Fanta on remained a vivid shade of orange.
During all the years of my long gone marriage, my husband would say, “Let’s get a hamburger!” Thus we would head off to the suburban wilderness to find a ‘Greasy Joe’s’ still open for customers. We would compare the quality of every burger.
We used to attend white weddings of the day, as all our friends gradually got hitched. We ate the plastic chicken dinners at the reception, and leave early with that empty feeling. Off to the nearest hamburger shop! I would realise my husband had his own priorities as he ordered two burgers with the lot! I guess the reader can imagine what all that grease did to our wedding guest couture. Unwashable!
Strangely, we were thin then. I suppose we worked hard, and could eat what we liked. We must have had cast iron digestive systems. Always in search of a perfect hamburger.
I do not eat hamburgers any more. I do not even get to junk food stores, who do not really care anyway. We all turned fair, fat and 40. Gallstones! That’s what we ended up with, from eating all that delicious takeaway food, so naughty. One with the lot! Plus the dim sims and Chiko rolls. These days such hamburgers shops are rare, and quite expensive, like most dining places.