While the Hamburger America documentary film came first, the Hamburger America book was released in book form soon after. In it, author George Motz expands on the selection of burgers focused on in the film to showcase 100 of the best hamburgers in America. While he thinks they are all some of the best, he is very careful not to declare any of the hamburgers in the book as the best hamburger in America.
Like in the film, there are certain criteria that seem to turn a regular burger into a best rated hamburger. First and foremost on that list is the quality of the meat. In fact, several times throughout the book Motz declares that certain burgers don’t need any toppings (or even seasoning) because the meat is just that good. Freshness of the meat is the most important thing and not one of the selections in the hamburger book features meat that has been frozen.
Like the movie, tradition is also very important. While there were a handful of burgers that debuted more recently, most of them have deep pasts, and all of the burgers seem to reflect the era and culture that the burgers were created in. From chapter to chapter you can see a running theme between the restaurants in each section. This stands out most in Oklahoma where the onion burger is king. Born in the WWII era (where onion was used as a filler to replace the harder to get meat), this specialty in which onions are pressed into the cooking burgers is seen in several places today, demonstrating how even when something is born for necessity it can still stand the test of time.
Each section in George Motz’s Hamburger America provides a location, history, and a description of the “must get burger.” The photos are wonderful, but, even though there were rich descriptions, I would have liked to have actually seen all of the burgers. I guess there isn’t always enough room, but I wanted more, more, more.
I also wanted to eat a lot of burger while reading it. Don’t even attempt to read the book on an empty stomach. Actually, you should probably read it at your favorite hamburger venue. Or better yet, hit the road to try one of the burgers featured in the book. Because it will make you hungry. Very hungry. Maybe even hungry enough to eat the world’s largest hamburger.