With nearly 100 burger reviews for A Hamburger Today under my belt, I don’t think I can ever eat burgers like a normal human being again. I started covering the San Diego burger scene almost two years ago, and have developed a technique that I’m positive makes me look like a total weirdo. Here’s how it’s done:
1. When the burger arrives at the table, get yourself at eye level with it and spin the plate in a clockwise circle, slowly. This will help determine the burger’s best side.
2. Stealthily take your SLR camera out of a bag and begin taking photos of the burger. Experiment with different angles, standing up if necessary. The entire time you’re doing this, it’s important to:
a) Play it Cool: Act like there is absolutely nothing out of the ordinary about being the burger paparazzi.
b) Take a Ton of Photos: Somewhere between 10 and a “metric crap-ton” is best. Restaurant lighting is tricky and the best way to make sure you have at least one good photo is to take a lot of them.
c) Don’t Explain: It’s tempting to reassure the people around you that you’re not crazy, but blurting out “I’m reviewing this burger for the internet” only makes things worse.
3. Cut the burger in half for the “autopsy shot”. The best method is to stab the knife through the center of the burger at a right angle to the plate. Then, slowly work the knife to one edge of the burger in a hopping motion before repeating on the other side. Don’t try slicing it in half like a sandwich. You’ll mash the bun and ingredients are likely to blow out both sides.
4. Resume taking crap-tons of photos of the burger, this time the cross-section shot. Position the burger directly in front of you and focus on the beef. If it’s juicy, the moisture can make this difficult. Take an extra crap-ton of photos just in case.
5. Put your camera away and take a good look at the patty. How tightly packed is it? How coarsely ground is the beef? Is it cooked to order? Peek under the bun to assess the char/browning.
6. Taste all of the ingredients separately. Pinch off a tiny bit of the beef and nibble on that by itself. Swipe a finger through the mayo, mustard, or other spread. Make some mental notes. Ignore the people at the next table who have stopped talking and are now staring at you.
7. Take a proper bite. Try to get all of the ingredients in it. Close your eyes, chew slowly, and contemplate.
8. If it’s good, attempt to stay calm and avoid pounding your fist on the table and unleashing a stream of profanity, dancing in your chair while happily chewing, or letting out a long, loud “MMMmmmmmmmm!” sound.
9. Fail, and do one, if not all three, of the things mentioned above.
10. Eat the rest of the burger in about 30 seconds, flat.