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I have been moved to write about one of the world's most iconic food staples - the Hamburger. It all started when I went down to see my daughter this morning at Redhead's place ( Mum for those of you who don't know that ) and we sat around chatting, yarning on and convened the knitting circle of " Memory Lane. "

And we started talking about a lady called Betty. But that comes later in my story.  Bear with me. Betty and her burger are what has happened today. When money becomes more important than the people who  started it.

Our conversation did not begin that way. In fact it had nothing to do with hamburgers or a lady called Betty. 

It was not your average 4 generational conversation, but we are not your average family. We are a family of strong men. Strong women and very well behaved children. One of the younger generation attended our meeting of the minds. 13 years old. It must have been an eye opener.

 We tallked about the architecture of Prague, the failure of the judicial system; the insanity of the vaccine mandates; the lunacy of stirring up racial divides; the rainfall this year and the prettiness of pink shoes.

We moved on to the joy of  sharing our lives with pets. We wandered down mossy pathways of memories long forgotten yet resurrected through our shared familial memory.

We talked about the past, the present and the future.

A 90 year old mother with her coming up 70 year old daughter and the youngster of the pack, my daughter who is as close to a living Pollyanna as you could get who is " in her 40's " .A woman who brings life and love into the worlds of those she meets.

She is a treasure.

Somehow, we moved on to talking about products in supermarkets and Redhead asked " what is an onion ring? "  So we debated the pleasure of a deepfried ring of onion dipped in batter and  munched with great pleasure.

Of course, it was inevitable that we would come to the subject of the hamburger.

Redhead declared that she had only ever had two hamburgers in her life. I said that I make them at home because I want them " my way. " My daughter spoke of some of the best burgers she has eaten around the country and the world.

The 13 year old sat there with a look on his face that suggested that he was all ears and it was clearly a subject that interested him very much. Given that his mother is not a fan of " junk food. "

I declared that a burger was not junk food and it was not a burger unless it had drippability.

" What is drippability? " he  ( the young chap ) asked.

I replied " when the beetroot juice and the pineapple juice runs down your arms and the sauce just oozes out so much that you need a shower after you have eaten it."

My daughter nodded knowingly.

Redhead and the young lad looked puzzled.

And so it was that I told the story about the Bulk Burger.

We had recently arrived in Australia. A migrant family. From our previous careers, we did what had to done in order to make ends meet. We bought a hamburger joint. Our children slept in the back of a Drifter panel van at the back of the shop while we slogged our guts out No welfare. It was sink or swim.

And we worked hard. From 5 am until midnight. 7 days a week.

 

not me by the way. A photo I found on the internet

 It was tough. No welfare.

Our small, insignificant little snack bar became the place to visit.

And it was all because of a burger.

Back in 1978, I created the BULK Burger. it was a beast. A behemoth of burgers.  In fact, it was so " YUGE " that, if someone could eat two, the customer got their money back. Never once did we refund a dollar. The BULK burger was so windswept and exotic, we actually printed diplomas for our staff that stated that they had graduated from the University of Hamburger Assembly. When a new member of staff was told that they had mastered its assemblage, the word would be put out amongst our customers and a time and date would be announced for the subsequent Award Ceremony.

Back in those days, people could walk into a humble takeaway and bring bottles of beer, bottles of Bundy Rum or whatever took their fancy. They would play a game of Space Invaders while waiting for their order, swig a glug or two, get their " burglar " as they called them ( because they stole their need to ever eat another burger ) and sashay off into the night, weave their way home and hopefully land somewhere close to their place of residence.

spacies

Certainly, there were times when people ended up in a ditch at 5 am and staggered home to meet " the strife " ( wife ) blaming my snackbar and the " burglars " for their transgression. But, to be fair, cars didn't have seatbelts in those days and cops were still human.Yes, it was the Golden, OLDEN DAYS. 

The BULK Burger was a beast of burgers. It started with a toasted and buttered bun. The first layer was a slice of cheese, lightly grilled and ever so carefully heated. Then came the slice of fresh Queensland pineapple ( you know, that stuff that you cannot buy in cans anymore because it all comes from the Phillipines ) topped with 2 rashers of Australian bacon. On top of that was a fried egg. Because bacon and eggs always go together. And yes, that egg came from a mate who was still " allowed " to sell us eggs from his chooks that wandered around his property and grubbed in the freedom of a life without a cage.

happyhens

We then went to the next part of the construction: ensuring that there was no leakage from the bottom to the top: keeping the egg safe from bursting its banks. The pattie went on top. This beef pattie was sourced from our local butcher who owned a beef cattle property. In those days, the meat was grown kindly and the cattle were never slaughtered halal. After all, that would have been un Australian. 

Carefully.  The rest of the " burglar " was assembled to the side in a separate build. The foundation was a whole lettuce leaf. From a market garden a few miles up the road.  On top of that was tomato, again, grown locally and it not only looked like a tomato and smelt like a tomato, it tasted like a tomato. There was no such thing as genetic modification in those days. 

 toma1

Meanwhile, my locally grown onion, from the Darling Downs, was gently frying and caramelising on the grill plate. This would then be put on top of the tomato. The crowning glory of the Bulk Burger was the Beetroot. It would be placed on top of the tomato, drenched in tomato and BBQ sauce and topped off with the last bun, also covered in grilled cheese.

The secondary build, created on the foundation of the lettuce, would then be carefully placed on top of the first and voila, the Bulk Burger would take its place as the finest burger ever created.

 aussieburger 1

It passed the most important test of all in burgler polls: drippability. It could drip from your mouth, down your arms and onto your hands. It scored 10/10 on drippability.

Tastability was a 10/10

To me, beetroot and cheese and pineapple are vital ingredients in an Aussie burger. In as much as pineapple belongs on pizza.  Oh, I know that Masterchef would not agree, but they think that eating meat that looks like it should still be running around in a paddock because it is so rare... I don't get it. 

Give me an old fashioned burger, a long slow cooked roast of lamb anyday. Oh, and with home made mint sauce and roast veges. Keep your cummin to your curries, your couscous to your hamas and your hands off my beetroot.

burger 

There will come a time when people will forget the days of the Aussie hamburger, the old fashioned lamb roast and look of bewilderment if someone suggests pineapple on a pizza or beetroot on a burger.

Let us hope that better things are on the horizon.  Though, I fear that we will be in a drifter van heading north or west. Looking for pastures greener and places where Australia still flourishes and drips down our arms in abundance. Hopefully, not grown in China.

Which brings me back to the Betty Burger in the1970's.

A woman who sold hamburgers for a dollar on Noosa beach.is now a national brand.

And I made Bulk Burgers and served milkshakes made from chocolate milk and Bundaberg rum.

Now, Betty's name is franchised. The burgers bear no resemblance to the ones we loved all those years ago.

My bulk burgers are a long distant memory.

It seems to me  that all we have to do is say no.

Or do I need to track down  a 1972 Drifter to bugger off in and just say " So long and it has been nice knowing you. "

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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