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Burger… is it changing? 
Posted: 11 June 2007 04:47 PM   [ Ignore ]
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Here in Austin, Texas, Tex-Mex restaurants are rivaled only by hamburger places.  Although we have all of the national franchises, there are a plethora of small chain and independent places as well.  Of course, it’s only natural that each of these establishments lays claim to “The Best Burger in Town,” but they all can’t be right.  (Burger Tex is the best, but I digress....)

Something I’ve noticed of late perplexes me.  I always thought that the term “burger” - short for hamburger - described the patty of meat itself.  But more and more I’ve noticed that some of the restaurants use the term to describe the complete sandwich when they print something like: “Substitute a portabello mushroom, veggie patty or chicken breast on your BURGER for $1.00 extra.”

What gives?  Does the term describe the sandwich or the patty of ground beef?  And if I’m trying to follow the Adkins regimen and order my burger on a bed of lettuce instead of a bun, then what the heck am I eating?

I’d like to hear your input.

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Posted: 11 June 2007 05:04 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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It’s not changing, it changed decades ago. I’m in my 50’s, and it has had both the “meat patty” and “sandwich made from a meat patty” sense since my childhood.  AHD and MWO explicitly list both senses. (Well, strictly speaking, they list both senses for hamburger; for burger AHD lists only the sandwich sense, though I would consider that an oversight.)

[ Edited: 11 June 2007 05:10 PM by Dr. Techie ]
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Posted: 11 June 2007 06:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Joseph, are you saying that they are calling the veggie patty or chicken breast a “burger”? If so, I can’t see it catching on. I haven’t seen it here in the midwest US.

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Posted: 11 June 2007 06:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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I don’t think that was the issue he was raising, but FWIW “veggie burger” is pretty common in my experience.

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Posted: 11 June 2007 07:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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I’ve been putting hamburger patties onto hamburger buns to make hamburgers for 40-odd years now.  Last 15-20, I’ve also enjoyed veggie burgers, turkey burgers, and even bean burgers.  To me, if you just say hamburger, you mean either bulk ground meat (unformed) or the complete sandwich.

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Posted: 11 June 2007 08:57 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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This joke has been around since the early 1960’s if not earlier: a restaurant advertises “hamburger”, “cheeseburger”, “bacon-burger”, “bacon-cheeseburger”, “chicken-burger”, “fish-burger”, etc., etc. “Oh, and we also have one with ham, but we don’t know what to call it.”

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Posted: 11 June 2007 09:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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D Wilson - 11 June 2007 08:57 PM

“Oh, and we also have one with ham, but we don’t know what to call it.”

When I was in Hamburg three years ago I saw a Burger King downtown.  I went in to the establishment.  There were Hamburgers employed there. So I had to have the Hamburger.  Like Everest.  It was there.

[ Edited: 11 June 2007 09:24 PM by Oecolampadius ]
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Posted: 11 June 2007 10:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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I was once informed by a citizen of Kreutzlingen, Switzerland (after I had admired his handsome signet ring), that the ring signified his special status as a “buerger” of Kreuzlingen --- a status, he said quite distinct from that of a common or garden “burger” without benefit of umlaut, and one which took years (possibly even centuries) to attain. His explanation was a little beyond me (perhaps because of the wine), but it was clear that being a “buerger” meant a great deal to him. It’s OK, I believe, for a “buerger” to eat a burger in Kreuzlingen --- but if the opposite were to occur, there might be trouble.  ;-)

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Posted: 11 June 2007 11:06 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Am I right in thinking the patty was originally called a “Hamburger steak”, like a “Porterhouse steak” but did not originate from Hamburg? or even Germany?

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Posted: 12 June 2007 05:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Barry Popic lists all the theories with citations here.

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Posted: 12 June 2007 06:24 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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To me a ‘burger’ is the round flat object made of beef or chicken or vegetables or beans or whatever - it just happens to be usually served in a bun in burger bars. If you buy a pack of frozen beefburgers in a UK shop you just get the ‘patties’*. People here frequently serve them with beans and chips (but no bun) as a meal. As a child I called them all rissoles - though those tend to be made of pre-cooked meat scraps from the Sunday joint.

*I hadn’t come across the term ‘patty’ until McDonalds became much more common in the UK when I was an adult.

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Posted: 12 June 2007 07:31 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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What Dr. T said, both times.

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Posted: 12 June 2007 08:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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I was once informed by a citizen of Kreutzlingen, Switzerland (after I had admired his handsome signet ring), that the ring signified his special status as a “buerger” of Kreuzlingen --- a status, he said quite distinct from that of a common or garden “burger” without benefit of umlaut, and one which took years (possibly even centuries) to attain. His explanation was a little beyond me (perhaps because of the wine), but it was clear that being a “buerger” meant a great deal to him.

Being a buerger in a Swiss commune can indeed be very important. The buerger families of the commune of Zermatt at the foot of the Matterhorn have all inherited their status by descent from members of the commune at its original creation in 1621 (all except one family, created “buergerlich” by Napoleon when the Valais was briefly incorporated into France from 1798 to 1815, who are apparently still snubbed by the other buergers as Johnny-come-latelys). They are joint owners of the entire ski-lift system, ten of the biggest hotels, and of all the cultivable grounds not belonging to private individuals (brooks, meadows, mountain pastures and woodland). Thus this totally closed group, about a third of the inhabitants, wholly controls the economy of the commune and rakes off the vast majority of its profits. You bet that being buergers means a lot to them!

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Posted: 12 June 2007 12:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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Thanks, syntinen laulu. A succint and lucid explanation (reading it sober helped, too ;-)

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Posted: 21 June 2007 06:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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The status of Buerger was found in, I believe, most European towns - the English equivalent was Burgess and it meant you were a freeman with various privileges, such as the right to vote in municipal elections. The fact that Spanish has the equivalent surname Borges sugests the idea was not limited to lands in the Germanic tradition ...

On the subject of patty, I would agree that, as a dweller in Southern England, this was an unknown word to me except as a synonym for pasty, and my 1955 edition Pocket Oxford defines “patty” only as “Pie or pasty to be served to one person.”

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Posted: 25 June 2007 04:47 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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In Montreal once I made the mistake of asking for a hambourgeois (that’s what was written on the board). It is of course pronounced homburger…

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