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Steak - Hamburg style

Hi Tooting & Balham Foodies,

I hope all is well and that you enjoyed your weekend.

It was certainly good to get the kids back to school and start our steps back to normality. That also meant that we were able to bring back Burger Friday! Yay!! It was a great success, with some awesome feedback, as well as a sell-out seeing us serving a meal every 2.5 minutes through the peak period. It was certainly hungry work!

This week it’s the turn of the double cheeseburgers, which sold out in just 36 hours when they made their special appearance over half-term. We’ve invested in an extra griddle to increase our cooking capacity, so hopefully we will be able to get more and more of you enjoying them than usual!

Salisbury Steak, served with grilled okra and paprika potato wedges

All this talk of burgers, and a recent blog post by our good friends at the Tooting Family Kitchen ( &, has led me to think about them more than perhaps is usual. It often surprises me that a lot of the food that we enjoy today, and take for granted, is all fairly modern. The majestic burger is no different and has a history that spans 125 odd years in its recognisable modern form.

But what inspired the hamburger? The Hamburgers history, perhaps unsurprisingly, starts in the great port city of Hamburg. This was the largest embarkation point in Europe for the New World, with those of German ancestry making up the largest ethnic group in present day America. German food culture is strong through many parts of the modern day US and forms a large bedrock of its cuisine. Hot Dogs anyone?! It is here, in Hamburg, that we can find the modern burgers ‘pre-history’, with a popular local snack called "Rundstück warm". This is a simple meal, of sliced roast beef (or pork) served in a wheat roll, and doused in gravy. It is thought that this sliced beef served between two pieces of bread was a popular meal on the trans-Atlantic voyage, and new arrivals would demand the familiar meal in New York’s eateries, asking for it “Hamburg” style. At the same time, a happy coming together of industry and science occurred. Industry allowed improvements in quality of chopping and grinding meat, previously a niche and labour intensive skill, and science provided a better understanding of microbiology and meat safety, meaning the newly minced meat was safer to eat. Industry and science both combined together with the advent of refrigeration, allowing previously unused cuts to be used for mincing, meats shelf life increased through refrigeration opening up cheaper meat to the masses to help bring about the birth of the modern burger.

You can also see the strong echoes of the burger, in popular German dish Frikadeller. This is often called Hamburg Steak in the US, as well as “Salisbury Steak”. Named after Dr James Salisbury, who was a strong advocate of a meat centred diet to promote good health (this is also where American pasta and meatballs comes from) helping to popularise ground beef patties. He certainly sounds like my sort of chap! Sailsbury steak is a large meat patty, seasoned with breadcrumbs, eggs, onions and often milk, that is pan-fried and a served with a thick gravy, similar in texture to brown sauce, often including onions and mushrooms, similar to the sort of gravy that one would serve with faggots, as well as being reminiscent of that other classic American dish, Meatloaf.

Thank you all so much for your support, and I hope to cook for you soon,

Happy eatin’ y’all,



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