Now, I’m not the tidiest eater. If anything, it’s the polar opposite when you catch me at a table set less formal than the Ostro High Tea. But there is a bit of class to be observed at all public mealtimes, even when it comes to the humble burger. Yes, burgers have a code of etiquette that we must all follow – below are my quick tips to ensure you're equally as unlikely to be caught eating your Big Mac with a knife and fork as to faux pas your boutique burger consumption.
1. Cutlery Matters
If you’re seated in a burger joint, or a restaurant, and they have set you cutlery, they expect you to use them. None of this, “Oh, but fingers were invented before knives and forks anyway.” Cut the crap and use those little silver things intentionally placed within your reach. Then again, if you’re not given cutlery, honk away at that burger, and enjoy the greasy juices dripping down your fingertips.
2. Watch for the skewer
If there's one thing I've noticed in my burger-ings around town, it's that if there's a subtle skewer plonked through the centre of the masterpiece, the chef is sending you a message. This is not a burger to eat with your hands. Again, show off those pearly silvers and slice away.
As for an example of a clash between rules #1 and #2: Burger Burger gives you a cutlery basket, but there is no skewer through the burger. Don’t worry, in this scenario, the skewer rule (and lack there-of) wins out. Go nuts with your hands. Plenty of burger joints around the city will supply cutlery out of courtesy, mainly for those lacking fine motor skills.
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3. Your meat patty will fall out
Whether chicken, beef, lamb, pork, or pulled pork (lord give me strength), your meat will go everywhere. It's not your fault. There's nothing against a messy burger plate, but when this happens, step one is to not panic. Often, you'll see people try to catch the failing mess of a burger, creating more mess and dismay as greasy consumables slip further out of reach. Burger etiquette dictates you must eat your burger like it was any other main meal. Much like a pork belly or lamb rump dish, your burger is designed as an amalgamation of flavours, an energetic synergy of textures and tastes that cannot each be experienced on their lonesome.
“That first bite-oh, what heaven that first bite is. The bun, like a sesame freckled breast of an angel, resting gently on the ketchup and mustard below, flavors mingling in a seductive pas de deux. And then... a pickle! The most playful little pickle! Then a slice of tomato, a leaf of lettuce and a... a patty of ground beef so exquisite, swirling in your mouth, breaking apart, and combining again in a fugue of sweets and savor so delightful. This is no mere sandwich of grilled meat and toasted bread, Robin. This is God, speaking to us in food.”
- Marshall Eriksen, How I Met Your Mother, CBS
4. The sides
Any time a burger is served on its lonesome is a sad time. If I’m paying upwards of $15 for a burger, I want at least a handful of kumara fries to go alongside it. Here, I want to call out all restaurants, bars, pubs, cafes, bistros and goddamn brasseries around the country. Give us enough aioli and tomato sauce! Never have I come across a restaurant that isn’t stingy enough to cut us short on the aioli front. Surely, you get sick of being asked (and people are well within their rights to ask) for some more aioli?
Burger Etiquette 101: get sassy - demand that aioli.
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