This is a response of sorts to a post of Dr. J's blog.
First of all, let me say that any day that includes both eating burgers at a gourmet restaurant and a surprise wedding (as long as it's not of the shotgun variety) sounds pretty awesome.
However, Leigh's theory that this particular steakhouse "use[s] Burger Friday as a way to get rid of their leftover meat before their weekend rush" needs further elaboration.
Now, central to my non-vegetarianism is an utter denial about where meat comes from, so it seems very odd to me that steak can magically be transformed into hamburger (Mormons don't believe in transubstantiation --- see Hendrik "Hertzburger Friday" Hertzberg's otherwise good but offensive even to a no longer practicing or believing Mormon comment in the most recent New Yorker --- so I'm not being inconsistent here). So my question to Leigh (as part of her Ask Me? series --- assuming that's what it's called, I'm too lazy to go and look it up) is "how does serving hamburgers help this restaurant get rid of steaks?"
There's a little more background here, which needs to be explained. When Ms. Ideas Woman, Esq. was pregnant with Ideas Girl we visited her sister in Florida (Despite what my grammar implies, I mean Ideas Woman's sister and not Ideas Girl's sister, which would refer to a --- hopefully always --- empty set). Erica was in Florida as part of Disneyworld's Slavelabor for College Credit Program. (I think the credits she got were in business but they really should have been in Applied Marxist Theory or perhaps Sociology --- "Theories of Racial, Ethnic and Sexual Stereotyping in Job-Assignment at Amusement Parks." But I digress.
Now, as near as I can tell, Orlando has the worst food in America, if not the world. My dissertation advisor, who fancies himself a gourmet assures me that I am wrong and that there are in fact fine restaurants in Central Florida but we were unable to find them (We did find one excellent Northern Italian restaurant at Coco Beach, which was otherwise the nastiest beach town I've ever been to). We did find lots of Denim World's, Houses of Denim and other Denim-related outlets. And we found lots of chains serving greasy food.
Now, I am not one of those foodies who is above fast food. Just as when one rates wine, one ought to pay attention to the extent to which it fulfills it's varietal characteristics, I find nothing odd about holding certain fast food meals in high regard as exemplary of what fast food's potentials are. There was a great NYT article on this subject by one of their food writers who toured the country on a fast-food road trip, but it was a while ago and I am too lazy to look up the link to it. So, for example, I am generally fodnd of Quizno's. For this reason, we went to Quizno's a couple of times down in Florida. Like everything we ate there except for Krispy Kreme donuts (which exhibit the "characteristics" of "donut" admirably., Heather developed a food aversion to Quizno's that lasted the rest of her preganancy. I find it odd that with this current pregnancy all of her food aversions returned. So, for example, even though we've been to Quizno's a few times in the the three years between pregnancies she is now nauseous at the very idea, even though we haven't gone to Quizno's post-pregnancy.
One place that we went to down there was called "Steak - N - Shake" which I take it is some manner of Southern Fast-Food chain. If it had in fact been categorized under the variety "fast food" I think that the hamburgers there would have been fine. Quite greasy (I could feel my face returning to adolescent levels of acne whilst eating) but edible and flavorful enough. The problem was that they had pretentions of falling under the category of "greasy spoon" or "diner" or somesuch slightly more elevated category. And in this regard they failed woefully.
Why do I bring up this long and, let's be honest, rather boring story?
Well, on the back of their menus, they had the following blurb. "Why do we call our hamburgers Steakburgers? [this is in fact what they were listed on as the menus] Because we can."
Such a bald assertion of branding should have warmed my nominalist heart. But it left me irritated. If they were going to call it a "Steakburger" (registered trademark) than it ought to be made with a higher grade meat than, for example, Wendy's uses. I was similarly irritated when I ate at the Cafeteria of the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C. and bought a "multi-grain bagel with crisp Romaine, lox and capers" and got a white-bread bagel with iceberg, some orange cream cheese and onions. If the HM wants to spend its limited resources on something more important than a quality cafeteria, more power to them. But don't advertise your food as something it isn't. Whenever I tell this story to people they imply that I am being petty or that it is inappropriate to criticize any aspect of the Holocaust Museum. I simply insist that one can seperate the cafeteria from the rest of the museum conceptually, and hope my detractors can do likewise.
All of this leads back to Leigh's post. Presumably there is something more than simply branding which makes the steakhouse's burgers both good and appropriate for a steakhouse to serve. What, pray tell, is it?