Commentary, Recipes, Travel

Oh, That Hamburger

Papacha Hamburguer (Blue Cheese, Bacon, Sauco Ketchup) and Onion Rings (Walter Coraza Morveli)

I was excited to buy lunch for my friends in Peru. I was happy when Walter, one member of our team, chose to each Ceviche in one of Lima’s leading restaurants, but I was quite taken aback when the other members, Arnold, Brayan and Herbert decided to eat at Gaston Acurio’s restaurant, Papachos and have hamburgers. He may be the master of Peruvian cooking, but . . .

Hamburgers? Hamburgers aren’t Peruvian food, I thought.
When the guys told me they had chosen to eat the classic American food for lunch, visions of a McDonald’s Big Mac flashed through my head, though that is not what I think of as a good hamburger. (Yes, I still remember the ancient commercial from McDonalds, the iconic hamburger purveyor in the United States… two all beef patties special sauce pickles onions lettuce cheese on a sesame seed bun…

Papacha Hamburguer (Blue Cheese, Bacon, Sauco Ketchup) and Onion Rings (Walter Coraza Morveli)I laughed and told them to come to Utah and I would make them “real” hamburgers. They smiled, I am sure, and said I should come to Peru and they would take me out for a meal.

What were they calling hamburgers and why were they eating them? In the United States, I have learned that eating in a restaurant claiming authenticity from another country was to be culinarily misled. (After all, General Tso’s Chicken is as American as fortune cookies. It was created here although we think of it as Chinese.)

In my state of amazement and shock as well as with fears the guys were mislead by faulty claims of authenticity, I immediately turned to Google for help. “Tell me of this place”, I demanded of the gods of the internet, “and show me what they are serving!”

When the pictures were summoned and the menu of Papachos displayed, I was ready to book a flight to Cusco. Sighing, my reason reminded me that I am in the middle of a semester of college.

Gaston has outdone himself with imagination and the inclusion of local Peruvian ingredients to create burgers worthy of gastronomic dreams. With names like “Miss Mundo” (Miss World) and “Miss Veggie” this was a line-up demanding an onstage presence, dressed in their finest and sparkling. By a small stretch of the imagination, one could almost hear their answers to interview questions, “…and we will end world hunger.” Plantains and egg atop a burger, or mushroom sauce with Emmental cheese? These ideas were epic.

A reviewer from Madrid agreed with me when she said, “Mezclan ingredientes que jamás hubiera pensado que podían formar parte de una riquísima hamburguesa. También las hay para vegetarianos”. (Roughly, “A mix of ingredients never thought of before formed a rich hamburger. And they have vegetarian”
Vegetarian offerings on the menu? It made me wonder when it became a ‘thing’ to eat vegetables atop a sesame seed bun. These burgers were a far cry from textured vegetable protein, and sported toppings like eggplant!

Smithsonian.com cites the work of William Shurtleff and Akiko Aoyag “History of Whole Dry Soybeans, Used as Beans, or Ground, Mashed or Flaked” a sort of definitive work on soybeans who found the first use of the term “vegetable burger” in text in 1969. (It is written right next to ‘gluten steaks’ in the footnotes of the almost 500 page tome).

Despite the fact that vegetarianism has been around for thousands of years, it wasn’t until 1982 that the man credited with the inventions and revolution of Vegge-burgers , London restaurateur Gregory Sams, created a burger that was actually made from vegetable proteins. (before that, ordering a ‘veggie burger’ meant getting a regular burger with vegetables on top.) Sams had such notables as John Lennon and Yoko Ono frequent SEED, his establishment.

Not to be dissuaded when great food is at stake, and knowing I wasn’t going to be making a trek to Peru just to have lunch, I did the next best thing. Using the ingredient list as a sort of recipe, I made the burgers for Afua Daines’ Cooking show for channel 17 television, in Spanish Fork Utah. What an experience. The hardest part was deciding which burgers to build!

I decided on to try and estimate ‘La Gaucha’- a ground beef burger with chimichurri and avocado and ‘MISS MUNDO – De lentejas, beterraga y quinua, mango chutney, dip de pallar y yogurt, brotes, lechuga, tomate – a burger with quinoa and black beans topped with a yogurt sauce and mango chutney.
The burgers were a hit, though I was just trying to do Gaston with local, American ingredients. His ideas are superb.
For now, I will just share my chutney recipe, since it was very simple and a delight to eat. A trip to my local market turned up a wonderful mango paste by Goya. I added chile manzana and ají Amarillo paste and a beautiful red onion to my bag.

This was the result:
Mango Chutney
1 red onion, chopped into ¼ inch pieces
1 manana pepper, seeded and chopped into ¼ inch pieces
2 tbsp Aji Amarillo
2 cloves garlic minced
¾ package of mango paste
1 tbsp olive oil

To a medium sauce pan add oil, peppers, garlic and onions. Simmer until onions soften. Cut mango paste into 1 inch cubes and add to onions and peppers. Stir until the mango paste is liquefied. Store in clean glass jar.

Later I will share the complete, and quite involved, recipes for the sauces and hamburgers.

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