Thursday, 27 August 2015

National Burger Day- what makes the perfect burger?

Now let me tell you - my family takes making and eating burgers VERY seriously so you can trust me when I say it is worth while taking the time to get it right when it comes to what is frankly much more than ground meat and bread.

Since it's apparently National Burger Day this week (August 27 2015) I thought I would give you my top recommendations on where and how to eat burgers to get the full sensory experience a good burger deserves.

Firstly - eating out. I thought burgers were those things you get in High Street global chain burger joints. I will eat them for convenience. Then I discovered ThaT Burger in Watford High Street. The venue was draughty and a bit tacky but ohhhh the burgers. And the sauce. And the skin on fries which were to die for. I told my friends. They too fell in love with drippy juicy ThaT burgers nestling in crunchy waxed paper.

I'm beyond sorry to tell you that ThaT Burger inexplicably closed and despite teasing social media messages and a brief but glorious spell as a pop-up it seems to be gone forever. (There is a rumour they serve ThaT-style burgers in Delisserie, a London deli chain, but I have not visited so can't comment.)

Never fear though folks because if you are true devotee of the burger there is a restaurant in Portswood, a student suburb of Southampton, 7Bone Burger Co. which creates a fabulous range of dirty sexy burgers (their words not mine) to make your mouth water.

7Bone Burger Co.
Ok so a two hour drive from our home to the tiny venue (they also have a site in Bournemouth) seems extreme but since my son is a student in the city it's worthwhile. Not sure who we are visiting, him or 7Bone.......

Be prepared to queue (we wait in the pub over the road) and squish into the noisy industrial styled room and when you get a seat choose from an extensive menu or go off menu and ask for the Ronald's Revenge. Tell 'em madmumof7 sent you.

As the ultimate accolade I must tell you we took my mum there. She hates burgers and burger joints generally but tried their buttermilk chicken burger and ate the lot! High praise indeed! The beef ribs are good too.

Too far from the south coast? I have the perfect solution for you. The actual scientific method of creating your own perfect burger. Apparently it must be multi-sensory.

Here's the science in brief:
Sensory formula for the perfectly balanced burger revealed:
30% smell + 25% touch + 15% sound + 15% vision + 15% taste

Studies show taste is only one component and the perfectly balanced burger involves listening to chewing and atmospheric sounds, focussing on burger width over height, never serving it on a plate…and giving it a name

OK - says who?

Says Charles Michel, who has worked in Michelin-starred restaurants and is Chef-in-Residence and researcher on flavour perception at Oxford University’s Crossmodal Research Laboratory.

Working with Asda, Charles has this week revealed the following five findings that dispel many burger myths that just focus on ingredients:


1)   Taste is just one element – the perfectly balanced burger is actually a multisensory experience

Taste needs to strike the right balance on our tongue for an enjoyable perfect burger, which Charles Michel has calculated as: 35% umami (our fifth taste, which is a sweet and salty enhancer) + 25% saltiness + 20% sweetness + 15% sourness + 5% bitterness. 

2) We ‘eat with our ears’ - atmospheric and crunching mouth sounds can enhance the overall enjoyment of a burger

Both the sounds produced by chewing foods, and the background sounds of where you’re eating, can impact how a burger tastesPrevious scientific studies show atmospheric tinkling high-pitch sounds (such as piano or wind chimes) have the potential to accentuate the sweet notes of burger sauces, whilst the texture and crunching sound of bacon is just as important, if not more important than its taste and smell

3) Burger width is more important than height with the perfect burger standing at 7cm tall to hit all your taste buds at once

To taste all the different layers at once and with every single bite, the burger should be ‘mouth-sized,’ which is 5cm on average. The extra 2cm corresponds to the fluffy bread that can be squeezed with both hands to enter the mouth. It is therefore better to extend burger width rather than height so you can fit and taste all the different layers in your mouth for the perfectly balanced burger.  

4) Never serve a burger on a plate. Instead put it in food wrapping and eat with your hands to stimulate the senses

The feeling of food in the hand can change the perception of what we taste in our mouth. Eating a burger served in food wrapping allows you to sense the warmth of the bun as it maintains moisture and heat, whilst holding the structure together for mouth sized bites. Hearing the crisp sound of the paper can also enhance the sonic experience of the burger.

5) Giving your burger a name can change how much you enjoy eating it

A descriptive name can change what people perceive about the food. A good story and name can set the expectation of what is about to come, and enhance our enjoyment, just like the first sight of the burger.

Charles Michel has designed a science-based, nine-layer, 7cm tall ‘multisensory perfectly balanced burger,’ which he believes stimulates all of your senses at once.



And here is the finished burger although I have to say I would have to leave out the cheese as I irrationally hate the stuff in any of its forms from spreadable soft to stinky or blue. It's practically a phobia! You can "hold the tomatoes" on my perfect burger too!




I quite like the new fad for Brioche burger buns but have to say one of the nicest burgers I ever ate was created by my son featuring a burger (obvs!) bacon, red onions, pulled pork and BBQ sauce all nestling in a gently toasted Kripsy Kreme glazed ring doughnut. Don't grimace 'til you've tried it.

       Neil Moorcroft, Asda's beef buyer said: "Burgers have come a long way from a humble beef patty in a bun to a great British favourite and gastronomic dish. It’s important to us to support food innovation and offer customers something new. We want people to listen to the sounds and appreciate all of their senses when biting into their perfect burgers this National Burger Day!” 

      He added: “Wagyu burgers are full of flavour, texture and have a decent amount of fat to ‘carry’ burger smells to our nostrils making it the ideal key ingredient for the perfectly balanced burger. "

Asda apparently expects to sell over 10,000 Wagyu burgers (Asda’s Extra Special 2 x Wagyu beef burgers pack from £3.75) this August bank holiday weekend. Blimey! That's a lot of burgers!

In case you were wondering: I was not paid or rewarded in any way to mention any of the brands in this post. I just like burgers!






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