Tour de HamDel: Burgers
Written by Bwog Staff
In which free food aficionado Christopher Morris-Lent evaluates the bewildering array of options at everyone’s favorite deli.
Moving into East Campus sophomore year is hell on the stomach. Having been robbed of the breadbasket of John Jay and being too lazy and ur-masculine to really cook for myself on a regular basis, I found myself having to strike out in search of sustenance on the culinary bazaar known as Amsterdam Avenue. Fortunately, deliverance was little more than a block or two away: Hamilton Delicatessen. For the next few weeks, I was like the Morgan Spurlock of HamDel, relentlessly searching for the most delicious and unhealthy hamburger my parents’ measly largesse could buy. I therefore present to you the fruits of my month-long binge: a comparative analysis of what the deli modestly calls “Hamilton’s Famous Burgers.” (Next month: Ham’s Famous Combination Heroes!)
With its jingoistic name and quixotic mixture of ingredients (dill pickles, coleslaw, American cheese), I was surprised to find that the Uncle Sam is actually delicious. The whole – a sweet, savory burger with nuanced textures – is far greater than the sum of its parts, which is pretty much what HamDel is like in general: the cramped space, unadorned food, and unpleasant crowds somehow combine to create a dining experience that is as addictive as it is psychologically soothing. The other day, I walked into HamDel while in the midst of mental tumult and found myself vacillating as to which burger to get. The sandwich artist read my mind and said, “Uncle Sam, regular?” The intimacy of the service and sweetness of the coleslaw warmed my heart and belly for the rest of the afternoon. (Rating: 3.5 / 5)
The Don is undoubtedly HamDel’s worst burger. Its accoutrements (tomato sauce, mozzarella) are comparatively meager and blend poorly together. When I was pitching this article to the Blue and White editors, I waved a half-eaten Don in the air to illustrate the urgency of my project. Then I promptly dumped the rest of it into the garbage. Any potential for rage towards the establishment that made it was quelled by the stamp I got on my gold card, bringing me one step closer to the summit of Mount Parnassus. (Rating: 0.5 / 5)
There is nothing feminine or delicate about the Mona Lisa; rather, it’s the most manly sandwich HamDel has to offer, topped with bacon, melted with mozzarella, and dripping with barbeque sauce. The flavors are gloriously lacking in subtlety, and the certainty of future coronary blockage only makes the instant gratification all the more delightful. I would have completed this project much earlier if not for the titillation it produced within the deepest bowels of my alimentary canal to say: “I’ll get a Mona Lisa, please.” Textural note: sometimes the barbeque sauce can be a trifle unwieldy. (Rating: 4 / 5)
One of the more enigmatic selections on the HamDel smorgasbord, the E-Mail comes with cheddar cheese, raw onions, and guacamole. At this point I would like to present the following two ideas: raw onions are far better (crisper, zestier) than cooked onions; and guacamole is pretty much always delicious. Accordingly, the E-mail is a gustatory delight but somewhat of a textural disaster, as the guac has an unfortunate tendency to soften and perforate the lower bun, creating fissures that bleed green onto the top of your fashionably faded jeans and the nether regions of your new Lacoste polo. (Rating: 3 / 5)
The aptly named Insult’s defining characteristic is the carpet of hot peppers that streches across the top of the burger, cloying the tastebuds and setting the mouth ablaze. Proponents of snorting wasabi might enjoy the Insult; I did not. (Rating: 1.5 / 5)
The Manhattan Project
The combination of feta cheese, tomatoes, and vinaigrette makes the Manhattan Project a most novel and rewarding taste experience. The mild and savory flavors of the tomato and patty intermingle sublimely with the sharp scintillas of cheese and tangy dollops of dressing. (Rating: 3.5 / 5)
The Judge, on the other hand, is not only a culinary peroration both tastewise and texturewise, it’s an affirmation of everything I cherish about HamDel. Intellectualizing the deliciousness of The Judge would be antithetical to the spirit of HamDel, but I will do it anyway: three varieties of mediocre yet delicious meats are piled atop one another and accentuated with a nationalistic layer of American cheese and a brigade of fried onions that practically explode with flavor and thrombosis. Whoever said America hasn’t developed its own distinctive and orgasmic food culture? (Rating: 4.5 / 5)
Hamburger/Cheeseburger/Make Your Own
Thinking like this is dangerous. The burger and cheeseburger themselves are far too understated, and all of my own creations have lacked the synergistic quality and convenience of the preconceived sandwiches. (Rating: 2.5 / 5) (Rating: 2.5 / 5)
Deluxe or Regular?
This harmless-looking question is HamDelese for “would you like fries with that?” At first, I was taken in by the gluttony of it all and assented. I quickly found the fries to be flaccid, bready, and dry, which is a most unpleasant contrast to the juicy, tumescent, savory flesh of the burgers themselves. The only time it’s worth getting deluxe is when your gold card is paying for the entire sandwich anyway; otherwise, if a hamburger alone won’t suffice to satiate your Taft-like hunger, I recommend spending the extra two bucks on a bag of Cape Cod Potato Chips instead.
Anything to drink with that?
I suggest Peach Ice Tea Snapple.
Tags: not free food