Monday, 4 June 2012

The Queen's Diamond Jubilee Special: The Wimpy Quarterpounder

Hamburgers are, without the merest shadow of a doubt, my favourite food.

Wimpy hamburger restaurants have been around in the UK since the 1930's. By the time our Queen was crowned, the Wimpy chain was 12 strong. Nowadays, you can occasionally find a 'Wimpy Bar', but in the main, they have been superseded by the uber-dominant Maccy D's or The King.

What a shame! Wimpy bars are a proper British restaurant with knives, forks and waitresses. The food is real - prepared by a toque-wearing chef on a hot griddle. They have (or maybe had) big plastic tomatoes filled with ketchup on each table. The 'bender with cheese' signified a deep fried hot dog in a bun (which in the old days was ordered without any irony, sniggering, or knowing references to our 'flamboyant friends'). There were menus on every table.

Oh, and the food. The Wimpy quarterpounder is hands down the best fast-food chain burger known to man. It pisses on the McDonald's version. It pokes its tongue at the Burger King Whopper. It crucifies the Wendy's Big Classic.

I don't know what the big deal about this burger is, but it may have something to do with the wholemeal bun. Or it may be the coral pink special sauce, seemingly packed full of that mythical Japanese savoury taste 'umami' - which is a little like a a seafood cocktail sauce but impossible to create at home. It might even be that the burger was served on a china plate. Who knows? All I do know, is that I have finally cracked the recipe to be able to make this iconic British dish in the comfort of my own home, and my life is now complete.

The secret is Hammond's burger sauce (pictured): I don't know whether they had Wimpy's special sauce reverse engineered, or whether it is a stroke of lucky coincidence, but the sauce is perfect. Tangy, sweet, sharp and savoury. Delish. You can't buy this sauce in supermarkets - you have to buy it in 3x1 litre catering bottles. I gave a bottle to my brother-in-law Andre who shares my passion for this condiment and he agrees that it is a perfect copy of the original. You can only buy this stuff in largish quantities online or at catering outlets. Note to Hammond's: Start stocking it in smaller bottles on supermarket shelves NOW! (Also, did you notice how the label says 'American Style' on it, like it's a good thing? How very 1950's!)

Now, why have I chosen a Wimpy hamburger to commemorate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee? Well, I think that this dish represents everything fantastic about Britain: It is part of our British tradition. We invented it, before others got saw the potential, got involved and priced us out of the market with their own mass-produced inferior quality versions. It is far too high quality for the price charged. It is old-fashioned and inefficient. It has character and is a bit fuddy-duddy. It is not very sexy. It is simple and contains few ingredients. It is trying (a bit) to be good for you. It's anachronistic - and all the better for it.

Oh, and did I mention that generally I love burgers?

I'm no luddite, but eating this burger reminds me of a simpler time - before the E.U. Before credit default swaps. And before Simon Cowell. Go and get a bottle of this sauce and buy some wholemeal buns. Before you know it, you'll be whistling the national anthem and fantasising about Vera Lynn.

Buying this burger in a Wimpy Bar will probably set you back a very modern fiver, but make it yourself and you'll be out of pocket to the tune of a very antiquated £1.25 per serving. Rule Brittania!

Serves 1


113g ground beef, formed into a 7mm thick burger patty
Pinches of salt and pepper
1 large wholemeal bap
3 leaves of lettuce, chopped
The white part of a spring (salad) onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons of Hammond's burger sauce
1 processed cheese slice (optional)

French fries, to serve (frozen, of course)

In a dry pan, season the burger and fry it on both sides until cooked through, but not too caramelised on the surface. Split and lightly toast the bap and cover the top half with the lettuce. Sprinkle the chopped onion on the lower bun and place the cheese, if using, onto the onion and cover with the burger. Spread the sauce onto the burger and place the two halves of the bun together to form the quarterpounder. Allow to rest for a minute or two before serving. Serve with the French fries on the side.

1 comment:

  1. i admire your devotion and passion for what is the best fast food out there


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