Today we celebrate the cheeseburger, because that’s what cheeseburger day is all about, of course. If you’re a fan of cheeseburgers, then I hope you managed to find one of the many deals offered today at restaurants and fast food joints. Or, even made your own, if you felt so inclined. I rarely ever eat cheeseburgers anymore, but as a kid they were my number one favorite. This was largely due to the fact that they were a rare treat and included a visit to McDonald’s to get a Happy Meal. These little boxes of happiness promised not only a cheeseburger, but fries, a soda pop, and a fun little prize inside. Many times, I was far more excited about the toy as back then they were way cooler and like actual toys more than trinkets. Or, at least that’s the way I remember them. Now that I think about it, I remember just a plastic little rubber band motor boat, but it was still cool nonetheless. Having a cheeseburger at home was an extra cool experience back then, but I got more excited about the french fries that came with it. In truth, I now realize that cheeseburgers were simply the signal that something cooler was coming. But for that alone, I’m glad they get their own day.
These days I rarely ever eat red meat, which is pretty much the central ingredient of a cheeseburgers. In fact, meat in general is rarely ever on the menu when Philippe cooks. Although once a year, he makes a cheeseburger in the summer and it’s absolutely fantastic. This is something he only ever attempted once here in America, along with a few other dishes. His Mexican food, by the way, has become legendary and is my most requested of all his summer dishes. Though the exact inventor and origin of the cheeseburger is often disputed, all of the claims originate in the States. Equally tough to track down is the founder of today’s celebration. Nobody seems to know exactly why today is Cheeseburger Day or alternately National Cheeseburger Day, but for fans there’s really no reason to question such things. I love days like this, without a known origin, that somehow managed to establish themselves on an annual basis. It’s this wonderful mystery of collective admiration that makes these days so much fun!
I tried to get Philippe to make a cheeseburger to celebrate this day properly, but he just looked at me blankly and then showed me a photo of the “beautiful one” he made this summer. Somehow, as ever, I failed to get my point across properly. But, I’m happy just living with those McDonald’s memories of my youth. Along with that feeling of excitement on a rare Saturday night that my day’s playtime would end with a burger and fries. No, Philippe doesn’t serve his burgers with fries and thinks the combination is bizarre and unhealthy. He’s likely correct, of course, but that doesn’t stop me from craving it. In the end, though, what I’m really craving is simply a taste of my youth. A tiny bite of those memories that made me so happy in the past. Then, I realize that simply thinking back to them and smiling is one of the best treats of all. I’m not sure I’d really enjoy a Happy Meal properly were I to get one today. But thinking about them makes my heart smile. Sometimes, all I need to do is pause and remember bits of life that I once enjoyed to get that same feeling of enjoying them all over again. And spend just a quiet moment chuckling to myself as I sip a glass of wine and remember how much joy I once felt when mom told me it was cheeseburger day.
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