I used to be a vegetarian, but then I went on a road trip. The phrase sounds like it should be a car bumper sticker, and I am sure I am not alone in experiencing this moment of conversion. On the road I discovered that Memphis barbeque cannot be approximated with tofu or mushroom fiber. I learned that the BLT at IHOP coupled with a glass of milk is the perfect antidote to road-weary eyes. Journeying through the South taught me that the ham hock is what makes New Orleans’ collards greens, and mac and cheese is considered a vegetable in Mississippi. After eleven years I ate my first burger watching a baseball game in Cape Cod and wondered why I ever stopped. I don’t know if it was the sound of the bat, the setting sun, or the sweet smell of popcorn, but this burger was one of the best things I’ve ever eaten. Each bite took me further into an idealized American Dream of picket fences, barbeques, and Little Leagues.
This year I plan to eat at and blog about Boston food institutions. Last week to begin my quest, I gallantly set off in several feet of snow wearing four layers, two scarves, a couple of pairs of socks and foot warmers in my boots, all to eat a burger. But this was not any burger. Last week marked a new chapter in my life as a meat-eater-formally-known-as-vegetarian as I ate “The King.” Boston Burger Company is often touted as the home of Boston’s best burger. They offer a range of options including the conch burger, the deep-fried burger, the mac and cheese burger, and their most famous offering: “The King.” The burger pays homage to Elvis in meat form, and is the stuff of burger legend in New England.
As a child I was led to believe that burgers killed Elvis. I realize now that it was the combination of drugs, bad diet, obesity, and an enlarged heart that killed the King, however my younger self believed that Elvis had literally eaten burgers until he died. “The King” burger brings together all the King’s favorite foods- bacon, peanut butter, and cinnamon fried bananas all on top of an Angus beef patty. Certainly if burgers had killed the King, this is one he would have enjoyed eating.
I prepped for this auspicious culinary challenge by not eating lunch and drinking lots of water. We sensibly decided to forgo fries or deep-fried Mac and Cheese and focus on the task in hand. When the burger arrived I must admit I was intimidated. The peanut butter smeared all over the mayonnaise’s regular spot on the bun confused me, and the smell of cinnamon sugar jarred against the smell of beef. However, I put the lid on the bun and decided to man up and eat.I am embarrassed about the speed with which I was able to eat this Memphis-inspired concoction. Indeed, I finished before my boyfriend. The burger was not easy to handle, and the sticky peanut butter and fried banana combo tended to drip. I used at least five napkins. However, somehow the burger-peanut-butter-bacon-banana combination worked really well. Perhaps a little too well I might say, as while other burgers have beaten me, when it came to “The King” I was victorious. Looking at the empty plate in front of me I was rather ashamed that I had eaten it all, but I think it is because we didn’t have fries…
Burgers demolished we decided to share the next round, an “Elvis” frappe consisting of bacon, peanut butter, and banana in milkshake form with whipped cream. I guess our thinking was why just eat bacon when you could drink bacon? Again, it was delicious. My inner vegetarian cried tears of shame.
As we headed home I began to grow ever more concerned about the apparent lack of impact this colossal burger had had on me. I just felt a little tired, but not even necessarily uncomfortably full. I fell asleep on the train and my boyfriend woke me up when we got home, not an unusual occurrence after an evening out. However, we had gone to dinner at 5.30 and it was only now 7 o’clock. Walking back from the train I apparently walked so slowly I was in danger of walking backwards. I also stopped speaking so as to devote all remaining energy to walking. By 8pm I was fast asleep in bed. The next day I never felt hungry, and did not eat for the entire day. Thankfully it seems the burger did beat me after all.
I don’t think “The King” will be my regular Boston Burger Company burger. I know my limits and don’t want to follow Elvis to early burger-related death, and I’m more of a mac and cheese kind of a girl anyway. However, I feel several percentages more American for my burger-eating achievements. Anyone who wants to feel similarly patriotic should head to Boston Burger Company.