by Jerry Tranovich
On a recent trip that my wife and I took across the “pond”, I thought it would be interesting to check out a few burgers to see how they stack up against our’s, in the Mahoning Valley.
Germany. The land of castles, Wiener Schnitzels, Bratwursts, beautiful frauleins wearing chalobe popping dirndls, and of course, beer! And I love it all! But how do they stand on burgers? I’m sure that not many people would consider hamburgers a specialty of the Deutsch cuisine. But, why not? Afterall, they even have a city named Hamburg! So, I sacrificed some quality time with the schnitzels and brats to sample their version of the meal on a bun, that we Americans love so much.
After stopping in a few places in the region of the Rhein River, I noticed that the seasoning they use is quite different from ours. Not really bad, just very different. Maybe you need to be raised on it to fully appreciate it. They were nice sized burgers, maybe 1/3 pound, both with fresh toppings. The buns were fresh but not very remarkable, (I expected more from a country with so many great bakeries). If we were reviewing these hamburgers, I think they may have recieved a 2 star, or maybe even squeaked out a 2 1/2 star rating.
A week later, we stopped at Trier, a city about the size of Youngstown, located near the Luxembourg border. Trier has many ancient ruins and
tourist attractions, a marvel to walk through. At lunch time, we stopped at a restaurant named, “Louisiana”. This restaurant/bar was founded by an American entrepreneur and if not for the surrounding scenery, one might believe they were in an American sports bar. Football jerseys, (when I say football, I mean German football, soccer), and in keeping with the Louisiana theme, pictures of great jazz artists such as Louie Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald and others, decorate the walls. The atmosphere was tops! And I was not disappointed when I saw the burger menu. An entire page, dedicated to several specialty burgers! My hopes were high as I ordered the Clasic Cheeseburger. When it arrived, again I was not disapointed. The burger, the fries… they both looked great. But I did notice that
this was a “lettuce on bottom” burger. Our facebook friend, Burger Nirvana, points out that it’s hard to tell if the toppings are fresh with the juices of a hot burger on top. But they did seem fresh. The noticably different seasoning was present, but not so overwhelming, and it also had a cajun taste to it. The overall taste of this burger was very, very good. I believe if we rated this burger it would recieve a solid 3 1/2 stars.
Next stop, one of the culinary capitals of the world… Paris, France. We hopped on the bus and traveled 5 hours to take in some of the Parisian culture. After sight-seeing and taking pictures all morning, it was “burger-time”!
A few blocks from the Eiffel Tower we visited a small restaurant with a sidewalk cafe. We very much enjoyed our waiter who really enjoyed his job, but maybe should be a stand-up comic! When our food arrived, although you could tell the burger was hand pressed, it wasn’t very large and it looked like nothing special. We, on the Burger Review Board, have a test that we do while reviewing burgers – we sample the
meat by itself, to taste the seasoning. Wow! That first bite blew me away! This was an amazingly seasoned piece of ground beef! After that I was excited to start chowing down on this French morsel! It was a few bites in, when I noticed that my bun seemed on the stale side. At first, I wasn’t sure if it was a different type of bread or not, but then I decided it was at least a day or two, old. Not even half way through the burger, the bun had crumbled away and I was holding the burger by the lettuce and the very sloppy special sauce. I guess this proves how important every aspect of the burger is. Even with the excellent seasoning, the bun dragged this burger down into the 2 star range. Very disappointing.
My overall findings of the European burgers are not “flavorable”. But for the “Louisiana” in Trier, I will not consider ordering another hamburger there. Yep, next time I’ll stick to the schnitzel and brats, (and Beer)!