Jewish World Review Oct. 5, 2004 / 20 Tishrei 5765

Drs. Michael A. Glueck & Robert J. Cihak

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Consumer Reports


That old-time rare burger: Healthy or not?


http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | Don't you miss those great old-time rare hamburgers? Fortunately there is some good news on the grill and griddle. But first let's return our taste buds to yesteryear and review.


HAPPY DAYS
In my case I remember the happy days in the 50's and 60's when you could order a rare hamburger with well simmered grilled onions and nothing else on top. The perfect treat after a football game, on a date or when meeting with the gang after taking your date home.


MEATY DISASTER
The first assault on my taste, after I moved to California, was multiple toppings and special sauces in abundance. The ordering scenario went something like this. "How would you like your hamburger? "Rare with grilled onions and nothing else." "Would you like cheese with that?" "No." "Do you want lettuce and tomato or the special sauce?" "No, nothing, just rare with grilled onions." "Fine." The burger would arrive medium with barely cooked or detectable grilled onions and of course lettuce, tomato, special sauce on top with a pickle on the side. The chef just wouldn't accept that someone could eat a burger without all that glob. Order it your way but eat it the one way we always serve it.


THE BIOLOGIC BURGER
Then about five years ago true hamburger lovers in California and across the nation were plagued by a serious E. Coli case that threatened their taste buds. I tried to order a burger rare.


"No, you have to have it at least medium well or well," the young waitress said.


"You've got to be kidding," I said, "After all you make your living selling millions of hamburgers in California and billions across the nation!"


"I know, she replied, but after that case in Northern California at a fast food chain, our corporate lawyers issued an ultimatum stating no more rare hamburgers, they don't want to get sued." Never mind that there was only one serious case out of zillions grilled. I offered to sign a personal release form that I now carried with me to encounter the ever increasing legal assaults on my freedom of taste.

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I ordered a burger cooked their way but with grilled onions only. The burger came and looked like a well done wallet and tasted slightly better. The few minced onions were minimally grilled and at least the cook had left off all the fresh green and red vegetables. I now know to order the burger plain, dry and nude if I don't want a green salad on it.


RARE GOOD NEWS
With the passage of time — and aided by the fading of our memory cells — a few courageous eateries in Southern Calofornia have figured out how to serve a hamburger rare. Not that much rocket science is required! You must research and know your supplier well, purchase the best quality beef, check all deliveries immediately on arrival, store the meat at proper temperature, and use sanitary practices. If that fails apply the nasal sniff test. This alone would have diagnosed that fatal case.


THE RARE ROLL OF HONOR
In my hometown in Southern California there are a number of quality restaurants that have no qualms about cooking up that rare burger. These include the R and D (Houstons latest concept), The Red Robin and Ruby's. When you use the best beef there are no problems.


THE FUTURE
If you the reader has a favorite local burger spot in California or elsewhere that will cook it rare — the way you want it instead of the way their counselors-at-law want — and send the name to me perhaps together we can compile a rare meat lover's list.


And while you're at it send the names of those national places that won't prepare the burger your way. After all if they make a living cooking burgers then they shouldn't eliminate the gourmet's best choice. Look at it as a way to prod and convince them of the eater's menu of rights. In the end forcing you to consume a well done burger is like being asked to eat cooked sushi!


As for me I like a generous portion of well simmered grilled onions on top — but we don't need to talk about that just now.


Editor's Note: Michael Arnold Glueck wrote this week's tasty column.




Michael Arnold Glueck, M.D., is a multiple award winning writer who comments on medical-legal issues. Robert J. Cihak, M.D., is a Discovery Institute Senior Fellow and a past president of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons. Both JWR contributors are Harvard trained diagnostic radiologists. Comment by clicking here.

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