Save Money in this Sunday's paper

Wild West Hamburger

comments

Hemingway’s favorite burger is a moveable feast

By Quinn Western
McClatchy-Tribune
G272IE94J.4
Quinn Western - MCT
“Papa’s Favorite Wild West Hamburger” has more than a dozen ingredients, including carrots, apples and eggs.

More Information

  • What’s mei yen?

    If you’re thinking about making “Papa’s Favorite Wild West Hamburger,” gathering the variety of ingredients is the first challenge. Here are a few hints:

    • Spice Islands mei yen powder was discontinued years ago. You can make a version with nine parts salt, nine parts sugar and two parts MSG, according to an adaptation by The Paris Review. Then mix 2/3 teaspoon of the dry recipe with 1/8 teaspoon of soy sauce.

    • Health-conscious folks might want to skip the MSG, but without it, the burger can be bland. Carrot shavings and capers add texture, and the apples provide a little sweetness.

    • India Relish is a sweet, vinegary mixture similar to piccalilli originally made by Heinz. Today, several companies make it, although it can be difficult to find. Sweet pickle relish would be a good substitute.


  • Papa’s Favorite Wild West Hamburger

    1 pound ground lean beef

    2 cloves, minced garlic

    2 little green onions, finely chopped

    1 heaping teaspoon India relish (or sweet pickle relish)

    2 tablespoons capers

    1 heaping teaspoon dried sage

    1/2 teaspoon Beau Monde seasoning (made by Spice Islands)

    1/2 teaspoon Spice Islands Mei Yen Powder

    1 egg, beaten in a cup with a fork

    About 1/3 cup dry red or white wine

    1 tablespoon cooking oil

    Hemingway’s original instructions: “Break up the meat with a fork and scatter the garlic, onion and dry seasonings over it, then mix them into the meat with a fork or your fingers. Let the bowl of meat sit out of the icebox for 10 or 15 minutes while you set the table and make the salad. Add the relish, capers, everything else including wine and let the meat sit, quietly marinating, for another 10 minutes if possible. Now make your fat, juicy patties with your hands. The patties should be an inch thick, and soft in texture but not runny. Have the oil in your frying pan hot but not smoking when you drop in the patties and then turn the heat down and fry the burgers about four minutes. Take the pan off the burner and turn the heat high again. Flip the burgers over, put the pan back on the hot fire, then after one minute, turn the heat down again and cook another three minutes. Both sides of the burgers should be crispy brown and the middle pink and juicy.”

    NOTE: Handwritten notes list grated apple, cheddar cheese, carrots, “standard ham,” soy sauce, onion, garlic, tomato and salt and pepper as additions to the recipe.



He was a soldier, boxer, hunter, fisherman, drinker, father and the writer of words and stories that aimed to be, above all else, true and honest and pure.

He also knew how to make one hell of a hamburger.

Ernest Hemingway would have turned 115 this July, and the man behind acclaimed novels such as “The Sun Also Rises,” “A Farewell to Arms” and “The Old Man and the Sea” continues to generate reader interest, and not just in literary circles.

The culinary world buzzed about his work earlier this year when the recipe for “Papa’s Favorite Wild West Hamburger” – typed but with hand-written annotations – was released by John F. Kennedy Memorial Library and Museum in Boston.

The baroque burger, featuring more than a dozen ingredients including India relish, mei yen powder, carrots, ham, apples, eggs, cheese and wine, stands in stark contrast to the author’s famously economical prose.

But make no mistake: This burger is pure Hemingway, larger than life and full of adventure. Esquire magazine deemed it the manliest of quarter pounders, and The Times-Picayune called it “beautiful yet refined.”

The “Wild West Burger” recipe was among thousands of digitized documents released by the library, including papers congratulating Hemingway on winning the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1954.

After Hemingway’s death in 1961, President John F. Kennedy allowed Hemingway’s fourth wife, Mary Hemingway, to travel to Cuba (where the author lived from 1939 to 1960) and retrieve crates of papers and artwork, according to jfklibrary.org.

Mary Hemingway later exchanged letters with Jacqueline Kennedy to have the remainder of Hemingway’s work archived by the presidential library.

The Paris Review published a version of the recipe in September, but a scanned image of the yellowed document released by the library in February has editing marks with additional ingredients including grated apples, cheese and carrots.

The beginning of the recipe reads: “From Experimenting, Papa’s Favorite Wild West Hamburger. There is no reason why a fried hamburger has to turn out gray, greasy, paper-thin and tasteless. You can add all sorts of goodies and flavors to the ground beef – minced mushrooms, cocktail sauce, minced garlic and onion, ground almonds, a big dollop of Piccalilli, or whatever your eye lights on. Papa prefers this combination.”

Craig Boreth, the author of “The Hemingway Cookbook,” (Chicago Review Press, $22, 240 pages), said he admires the burger, not just for what’s in it, but because of its style.

“It shows a great international flare that he obviously had,” Boreth said.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

The Charlotte Observer welcomes your comments on news of the day. The more voices engaged in conversation, the better for us all, but do keep it civil. Please refrain from profanity, obscenity, spam, name-calling or attacking others for their views.

Have a news tip? You can send it to a local news editor; email local@charlotteobserver.com to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Charlotte Observer.

  Read more



Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

The Charlotte Observer welcomes your comments on news of the day. The more voices engaged in conversation, the better for us all, but do keep it civil. Please refrain from profanity, obscenity, spam, name-calling or attacking others for their views.

Have a news tip? You can send it to a local news editor; email local@charlotteobserver.com to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Charlotte Observer.

  Read more


Quick Job Search
Salary Databases
CharlotteObserver.com