On 27th August 2013 I found myself alone in London with an evening to spare. I was not aware until I got there that this date had been designated the UK’s first National Burger Day (NBD). Obviously, I needed to mark the occasion and various options occurred to me. One option was to celebrate the day by visiting one of the more downmarket purveyors of burgery delights, as a symbolic expression of solidarity with those less fortunate than myself. But, as it is my crusade to move the status of fast food up market rather than down, I decided that it would be a betrayal of my principles, especially as the poverty tourism trap was currently fully occupied by Jamie Oliver.
Instead, I wandered the streets, hoping to chance upon some sort of artisan burger joint and indulge myself in a more luxurious banquet-in-a-bap, but no joy. Plenty of Nando’s, Burger Kings and McDonald’s, but that didn’t seem good enough for NBD. I wanted something much more indulgent, so I kept searching and eventually found myself wandering in Southwark. As the NSA already knows, I consulted Google and searched for something special and what popped up was the Gourmet Burger Kitchen on Clink Street SE1. So, I found myself within a stone’s throw of the futuristic edifice that is The Shard, currently the tallest building in Western Europe, granting myself the luxury of spending more than normal on a working dinner for one.
I went for the Habañero Burger, rendered exotic with a “fiery tomato & habañero jam”, accompanied by skin-on fries, and the whole experience, including the staff, was truly excellent with only one tiny flaw. Yes, you guessed it, the mayonnaise was applied underneath the burger. It soaked through the bread so the structural integrity was undermined to the point that I couldn’t hold it and had to resort to a knife and fork.
I know what you’re thinking, probably exactly the same as me. The Shard is the City’s equivalent of that stake they put through a burger to hold it together. It has its function, but is primarily there for show, to keep up appearances until the burger leaves the plate on its much-anticipated journey to the mouth. Naturally, my thoughts were drawn to the the greatest city in the world and my hope that it is not founded on mayonnaise and soft bread, or at least whatever the financial equivalent.
I am rather skeptical of many of the claims by our government about “green shoots” and recovery, particularly in light of the informal relationship Conservative politicians have with the truth. As we saw with the bread and circuses of London 2012, they are fans of flag waving in order to distract from uncomfortable truths.
The Shard’s owners claim it will “become a symbol for the capital, recognisable throughout the world.” Rather like the iconic image of the classic American burger with a wooden sandwich stake through it, let’s hope that the governors of Britain’s financial future, so concentrated within view of The Shard, remember their order of priorities when building a burger and even on a day of hoop-la celebrating the UK’s first National Burger Day, don’t rely too much on a sharp stick draped with fairy lights.