What America Tastes Like

Our Hamburger Families

Your super-duper-Great Grandmother lived in Africa maybe 230,000 years ago. So did my super-duper-Great Grandmother. She was the same lady, the Most Recent Common Ancestor of us all.

Think about all the kickass diversity and development our family has come up with since then. We all grew up and got jobs as farmers or colonializers or fascists or pirates, or graphic designers in Portland Oregon. Yeah, lots of arguments between brothers and sisters have happened over the years. The occasional Inquisition and atrocity, too. But eventually we may all reach a point of general maturity that helps us to get along with each other. At least on holidays.

What if you could have lunch with out grandma? The “Mitochondrial Eve” that scientists say was genetically at the divergence of macro-haplogroup L into L0 and L1–6?

Okay, what if you could have the Most Recent Common Ancestor of hamburgers? She is the grandma of an American species that migrated worldwide.

At “Louis Lunch” down the street from Yale, you can have lunch with the mt-MRCA of hamburgers.

DIg it, this is the shared ancestor of all burgers. From these two slices of Wonderbread the black-bunned burgers of Japan evolved. The doughnut-bunned 1,500-calorie favorite of Luther Vandross in Georgia. The 134-lb shareable Mallie’s burger in Michican. This burger set sail to other continents, getting filled with pigeion meat in London. Becoming an entire steak topped with chicken schnitzel in Australia’s Fitzroy pub.

Burgers on each inhabited landmass are stuffed with macaroni and cheese, edible insects, and peanut butter and jelly. Diversity kicks ass.

The world’s “original burger” takes a long time to brown to perfection in what appears to be the engine of a steam-powered locomotive. It’s the same upright-boiler the place had in 1895.

This burger is only a simple thing. You’ll wait for it while standing in a restaurant the size of a toolshed. And it is worth seeking out because it is simple and good.

Wherever Louis sources their meat, they need to keep getting the cows there. When you are offering just salt and pepper, you need some flavorful ground chuck. These cows bring it, and the cozy personable staff brown it for you and stuff it between slices of white bread.

261 Crown St
New Haven, Connecticut

“What America Tastes Like” is an exploration of sub-cultures in the US by way of food. Eating is something all people do, and it also happens to be one of the few expressions of “difference and diversity” in culture that just about all people are ready to celebrate. Regardless of our politics and religion and ontologies, we all like to eat food with our mouths.

Food makes family happen.



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