Food & Drink

Thrill your grill

Sometimes, hamburgers aren't all they're stacked up to be.

They can be tough, dry or pasty. Overcooked or undercooked. Pressed with spatulas over sputtering flames until they could double as tire patches.

It's a lousy way to treat our nation's signature food. This year, I made a declaration: No more disappointing burgers.

First, I broadened my definition of burger. There are purists who swear that if it isn't beef, it isn't a burger.

In his 2005 book “Hamburgers & Fries: An American Story,” John T. Edge declared, “A burger is made with beef. As far as I'm concerned, there are no such things as salmon burgers or crab cake burgers or shrimp burgers.”

Sorry, I don't agree. We call it a hamburger even though it isn't made of ham. So why can't other ground mixtures be burgers?

America is the patty-melting pot, a country big enough to accommodate its differences.

I'm happy to put variations on my list, including a shrimp burger and a pork burger. And a vegetarian burger, too. In America, everyone has a right to food served on a bun.

I skipped the salmon burger – the last time I checked, wild salmon was up to $18 a pound. And I threw out the turkey burger. No matter how many spices I've used, it makes a tough, bland burger. Save the turkey for another celebration.