There are many theories about the invention of the hamburger: some assume that the city of Hamburg gave its name to the famous dish. As early as the mid-19th century, Hamburg offered the hot snack Rundstück warm, in which a warm piece of pork or beef was placed in a round wheat bun.
During that time, many emigrants set out for the United States from Hamburg: Therefore, it seems obvious that German emigrants took the hamburger with them to the U.S. and introduced the dish there.
At the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis, a dish called “hamburg” was offered – the predecessor of today’s hamburger, only without the “er” ending. Back then, the basic ingredients were a wheat roll (called a bun), a ground beef patty (called a patty), mustard, pickles and onions. The basic ingredients of a hamburger haven’t changed until today.
Fletcher Davis from Texas is considered the inventor of the hamburger: To this day, “Old Dave“ Davis is associated with the invention of the hamburger.
As early as 2,200 years ago, a dish that looks quite similar to today’s burger was an integral part of Chinese cuisine: The Roujiamo was invented during the Qin Dynasty.
This dish combines hour-long stewed pork and flatbread. Depending on the regional tradition, the pork is replaced by beef. Today, Roujiamo is considered the Chinese equivalent of the hamburger and one of the first dishes to provide inspiration for the hamburger.
Preparation of the hamburger
The hamburger is often associated with fast food: in fact, it was fast food chains that made the hamburger fashionable in many parts of the U.S. and Europe.
But preparing a hamburger is anything but fast: first, burger buns are baked, the main ingredient of any hamburger. Once the bun is baked, it’s time for the meat: usually, one uses ground beef to form a large, flat patty.
Afterwards, it’s time to grill the patty: if you want a cheeseburger, melt a slice of cheddar cheese on the patty just before you finish.
Now it’s time to dress the burger: For this, you stir a burger sauce, recipes for this are a dime a dozen. Finally, the classic burger is topped with pickles, onions and lettuce. At this point, it is possible to use additional sauces and spices.
There are many possibilities to arrange a burger: one can find an almost infinite number of hamburger variations. There is also the Pulled Pork Burger, which is particularly popular with barbecue lovers.
The hamburger myth
There is no consensus among historians as to when the term hamburger was first used to describe a ground beef patty in a wheat bun: One source dates the first mention of the hamburger to 1842, while another source refers to 1891. Only one thing is certain: there are at least as many stories and myths surrounding the origin of the hamburger as there are variations of the dish.
Cover picture: A cheeseburger with bacon and arugula salad, © Simon von Ludwig, all rights reserved.