Burgers & Tunes
All of it. Ills and evils. A street brawl workday. An aching lower back. A thousand tiny worries. Alleviated by the significant victory of arriving home safely, changing into casual clothes, powering on the stereo, and firing up the grill. No kettle tonight. Instead, a reward for the senses. An old-fashioned glass with perfectly formed ice, one and a half ounces of Tanqueray gin, two ounces of club soda, and a grapefruit wedge – like a good friend throwing their arm around my shoulder. A delight! I wish that friend had been here, lounging on a patio chair, helping connect the dots of the day.
In my newly minted ‘Adam Baldwin Cross Country Chin Up’ tee, I initiated the ritual. Carefully slipped the midnight shine of a vinyl record from its arty sheath, placed lovingly on the turntable, and let the needle descend. The perfect crackle. And then, music. Side one of Tragically Hip’s ‘Fully Completely’. With the soundtrack set, the grill set it to a desired heat, I moved to the kitchen.
From the icebox, I accumulated all the ingredients required for the perfect burger and a fresh corn salad with scallions and basil to have alongside. When ‘Courage (For Hugh MacLennan)’ faded into ‘Looking for A Place to Happen’ I was ready to make the main course. In a shallow bowl I carefully broke up the ground beef and minimal fill with my hands, careful not to overmix. I formed a generous patty, ¾ inch thick, made a sizeable depression in the middle with my thumb, seasoned with salt and pepper and moseyed to the barbeque. I dispensed colorful banter with neighbors nearby while I brushed my burger with oil and waited for the first side to turn golden brown and slightly charred. My Dad always told me, “Never press your patties when it’s grilling unless you want a bland burger. Pressing takes all of the fat and flavor out of the meat.” I am now forever a frequent flipper instead. Gord sang me out of ‘At the Hundredth Meridian’ and into ‘Pigeon Camera’ when I popped inside to select the cheese. It is always a toss up between swiss, old cheddar, or Havarti. I opted for old cheddar in honour of my friend who I was deeply missing. I even made their not-so-secret sauce to garnish – mayo, ketchup, relish and paprika all mixed in a small bowl to rest. My friend would have been pleased to see that added touch. And I made it solely because I knew it would make them happy. And, I like when my friends are happy. I like the things that connect us and keep us close.
After frequents flips of the sizzling chuck, I top with cheese and duck back inside to swap out the music. Side one of Tragically Hip for side two of Matt Mays’ ‘Twice Upon a Hell of a Time’ – unplugged, always my preferred dining vibe. When I arrived back to the barbeque, a tender, juicy, and flavorful burger awaited me. I brought it inside, nestled the cheesy patty in a warm brioche bun, brushed with my bud’s special sauce, and topped with smoky bacon, a beefy tomato slice and crisp lettuce. A side of the corn salad, a gin refill and all was right with the world. I sat to eat with a calm in my heart. Burgers and tunes, even alone, and especially after a long week, is where its at.
I made a comment on a bud’s Facebook post about his making burgers. He’s a mega music friend. To his post, I simply replied, “Burgers and tunes!” He replied, “Sounds like a short story title.” I took it to heart and used it as a lazy Sunday writing exercise. It’s likely a bit of a bore but it felt good to use the creative side of my brain to churn out a little piece. Just to move my fingers. Some details fact, some details fiction. As with anything, yeah?