01 October 2013

Adventures in Eating: An Uncooked Burger

On September 28, 2013, my bf(f) and I took a big step in our relationship when we rented a uHaul and moved in together.  To celebrate, we went out for burgs n’ beer at an untested restaurant.  The menu item was a burger & fries with a Hogtown Ale tallcan on the side — what could go wrong?

The beer, first of all, was delicious (and I even got a few extra taste tests in when the keg taps directly in front of me spewed beer all over my face and hair, a two-time mishap that resulted in a free milkshake).

R and I sat at the bar, chattering happily about what the future held in store for us as we waited for our food.  But when I saw the burgers coming toward us, my heart sank in such a way as to make me fully understand where the expression “my heart sank” even came from because I could physically feel my heart sinking in my chest.  The burger was rare. Like rare-rare.  Like fully pink-patty rare.  When my heart sank as low as it could sink, it triggered a wave of nausea (think of the game Mouse Trap) at the thought of having to consume meat so undercooked.  I tried to brace myself for the experience by telling myself that eating rare meat is common and even preferred in some circles. I chalked it up as a new burger experience for me, since I am typically used to eating well-done burgs.  But when I took the first bite, I knew it was going to be a struggle, and that while, yes, it would be a new experience, it would not be a new experience that I was going to enjoy.

Typically when I eat burgers and fries, I do one of two things: I either eat one or two fries first to whet my appetite, then eat the entire burger, and then finish off the fries, or I eat either all of the fries or the whole burger before moving on to the other.  It’s very rare that I would take one bit of a burger and chase it with a few fries, but that’s what I had to do that night because I was terrified I was going to repay that bartenderess for spraying me with beer by spraying her with vomit.

Definitely the idea of meat not being fully cooked is a huge obstacle for me, but I think the main thing I struggled with that night was the texture and structural integrity of the meat itself.  It was so moist that the burger was less like a patty and more like semi-solidified sludge that had been scooped in between two pieces of garlic bread (because the burger was served on bread, not buns).  I hated that every time I took a bit, the meat spilled forth into my mouth like really watery oatmeal.  Every bite was a challenge, but every bite also moved me closer to finishing the burger and being done with this horrific ordeal.

But you know what? I wasn’t done with it.  Even after I finished the burger I felt nauseated because all I could think about was how it was now in my stomach.  The only thing worse than looking at it and knowing that I had to eat it was knowing that I had just eaten it and that now it was inside of me.

We continued on to our (now) local bar, and I drowned my sorrows in beer and roommate banter.  But still, it sat heavily in my stomach.

When the night was over and I crawled into bed, I again felt waves of nausea pour over me.  At first I thought that maybe I drank too much, but it wasn't alcohol-nauseau.  It was the nausea that can only come from knowing that you've done something wrong, something so horrific and disgusting that your body's only reaction is nausea.  It was the kind of nausea that accompanies seeing a pile of corpses decaying and being eaten by freshly-hatched maggots.  Except that the pile of decaying, maggot-ridden corpses was actually the burger that I ate.

The silver lining here is that we got to share this great chocolate & salted-caramel milkshake.


R & I were both under the impression at times that serving uncooked burgers was actually illegal in Canada. I was under this impression until about 3 days ago.


  1. Totally causing flashbacks to "the" burger I ate that caused me to become a vegetarian. There wasn't anything unusual or particularly disgusting about this burger, but somehow, the fact that it was a dead cow's muscle all ground up was all of a sudden SO clear to me. It was in my hands, my mouth, my stomach. And I felt the way you felt. And now it's 20 years later.

    1. That realization that I was eating something that used to be alive and move around has happened to me too, although never with a burger (I guess because it’s all ground up and reshaped). It’s really disturbing when it does happen, and sometimes I even think that I should be a vegetarian if I found it so disturbing. But then I remember all the good times I’ve had with a burger and how central ham is to my understanding of my self, and I just can’t.

  2. I actually really liked the burger and had no idea you were going through this ordeal at the time.

    1. But it sounds like we both struggled that night.

  3. So, you wear that shirt out in public?