Have you ever wondered what genius came up with the idea of garnishing meat with more meat? Last night while sick and stuck in the Phoenix, AZ airport I had a hankerin’ for only one thing.
To be home with my wife and cats.
However that wasn’t happening as my layover flight was delayed and to substitute I wanted 1) a Guinness and 2) a burger. Now, as if I had not already eaten enough red meat with all the Italian beef sandwiches, hot dogs and pizza (meals like those make my ‘da bears’ accent come back) I still just wanted a hamburger. Should be easy in a modern airport, right?
First I was lucky I had a delay because I had to take those moving walkways all over the freakin’ airport to find a restaurant that had 1) Guinness and 2) a burger. Three out of five restaurants I saw were Mexican-themed, which of course in the Phoenix, AZ airport means they’re run by white folks making awful attempts at forcing tacos into sandwiches on breads with names like Ciabatta. On top of this these Faux-Mex restaurants do not serve Guinness – it would contradict their image. Instead they serve plenty of crappy patriotic lagers and ‘cutting egde’ travesties like bud light with lime.
Ugh. We used to try and do that at keggers years ago – lime does make bad American Lager better, but not by much and ‘better’ here is comparable to, oh I don’t know, saying, ‘No – let the midget with the razor-studded dildo have his way with me rather than the rhinoceros’. In other words, either way you lose!!!
There was a fox sports bar, but I REFUSE to give fox my money for food and alcohol. Not to mention there were a million television screens playing EVERY SPORT EVER PLAYED at the same time at super high volumes. I had a copy of the new Irvine Welsh with me (thanks Gina) and I just wanted to eat and get a little sloppy with ‘the schemies’ in peace and quiet**.
Finally I found a place. They had a couple tv screens on the World Series, which is fine. If I was going to go back to following any sport it’d be Baseball, and the sets were only on the inside and at a reasonable volume. I sat on the place’s ‘Patio’ and was very relieved to order a burger and a Guinness, which happily came in a GIANT glass. I set about decompressing.
I ordered my burger but apparently I had not looked at the menu very well. When the waiter asked if I wanted everything on the sandwich I replied with my customary ‘Everything except cheese and mushrooms’. In Cali I would have added mayo to the ‘no’ list because EVERY burger in California comes with mayo on it, but here I was safe. I don’t hate mayo, but I got so deathly ill from mayo on a fast food chicken sandwich one time I’ve been resolute in my restaurant boycott of the stuff.
Anyway, when the burger came I had the tiniest initial inklings of a buzz and it took me a minute to realize that there was the usual and greatly appreciated lettuce, tomato and raw onion on it, but there was also grilled onions and bacon! It looked like half heart attack, half salad on bread. I’m not generally one to complain (unless there’s mayo) and after looking at the menu again I realized that truly it was ‘my bad’ – the place’s standard burger did indeed come with these artery-clogging accoutrements. Normally I would not eat bacon on a burger, especially alongside grilled onions. When Wendy’s said the baconator and I said ‘not a chance’. However, I had my Guinness, and I really wanted a burger… In true Adam West fashion I grappled with the decision at hand. Must… eat… deadly… meatpile… (it didn’t occur to me until halfway through to just take the offending ingredients off).
I took a bite.
Now, in no way do I want anyone to interpret this as an anti-bacon mission statement. On the contrary. I love bacon. Bacon has done a lot of great things for me. When I used to go to the Empty Bottle in Chicago to see Cash Audio***, drummer and all around nice guy Scott Giampino used to have a skillet attached to his drum kit for down home percussion but would often also use it to fry up bacon before the show, hand it around to those of us hanging out and singing their praises. Another time while really hung over in Dayton, Ohio I experienced the best bacon I’d ever had – I ate soooo much and loved every heart-clogging minute of it, eventually regretting it later but hey, that’s life right? Or rather that’s bacon. And that is especially bacon when piled on top of a thick ground beef patty and slathered with grilled onions.
I took another bite.
I couldn’t decide whether it was the best burger I’d ever had because I was so freakin’ sick of being on a plane and in airports (five days before it had taken me 12 hours and half the United States to reach Chicago) or because of the life-threatening ideologies swarming over my tongue and down my throat, falling like grease-soaked meteors into the abyss of my Guinness-soaked, antibiotic strewn stomach. Hmmm, I thought, taking a gulp of beer to wash the fresh mouthful of mess down. I couldn’t quite place the sensation I was having – was it breakfast or dinner? Life or death? My travel schedule wouldn’t be able to help me figure it out so I leaned in for another bite…
That’s when I realized – this was actually pretty gross.
What I had mistaken for flavor was really the negligent American idea that more is better and the bigger, more deadly the meal the more it will ‘fill you up’.
This is why we are such horribly addictive consumers friends – we don’t think before we buy, or eat in this case. We listen to what the images and innuendo tell us. Here I am sitting in an airport, famished, pummeling my exhausted system with a double-helix of meat to try and feel better when really, a good cut of beef pattied and fried up with some greenery fixin’s would have been the perfect thing. I neglected what I wanted for what they gave me, what they thought I wanted, and that was my first mistake.
My second was forgetting my Pepto.
Thank god for further delays.
* Not the one in the grocer’s freezer
** With such unreasonable demands for modern-day America it’s no wonder that in some states I’ve been mistaken for A) a communist B) a Satan worshipper C) a smart ass.
*** Serendipitous that I would come around to Cash Money being asterisked again – this is the one I forgot to supply an explanation for a few blogs back. Cash Money was a fantastic Bourbon-soaked blues-rock band on the Touch and Go label in the late 90’s. Based out of Chicago Scott Giampino was indeed the drummer and John Humphrey was the guitarist/vocalist. Despite having no bass guitar Humphrey ran his guitar amp’s line out through a bass amp to pick up the low end, and let me tell you, they didn’t need the bass. Feverish in their reverent-performances of dirty-ass indie rock dusted with Memphis and Nashville mutations these guys slammed so hard it was incredible. Sadly, a shitty rap crew sprung up with the same name and legally strong armed the guys into changing their name, which they did, to Cash Audio. Not the same but those of us who knew and loved them still refer to them by their real name to this day, even though the band essentially laid down their arms in the early part of this decade. Ahhh Scott and John, I hope you guys are well out there, still playing good old, hard-drinking rocknroll in some form or another. I think you can hear snippets of them here, if you like it buy an album or two and give these guys some posthumous dough!!! http://www.orangerecordings.com/cashaudio.html