Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Because I Could

I bought another package of the Trader Joe's "Teeny Tiny" burgers last week. I don't see myself ever making them again as a meal; they are good but not great, and besides, if I want sliders I will just make them myself. But they are an ideal snack - each one is much more substantial than even a couple of White Castle burgers.  

I was down to my last one and considering what to put on it.  I was also down to my last couple tablespoons of Zankou garlic sauce, so naturally I decided to combine the two. I studied the condiments in the fridge for complements to the garlic sauce. This took quite a while; remember the line in Fight Club about the narrator having a house full of condiments and no food? That pretty much sums it up. (Also, I like to fight Meat Loaf in the basement.)

Fortunately, I had two of the best garlic condiments ever. A.1. Supreme Garlic Steak Sauce, unlike almost every other steak or barbecue sauce that hijacks the word garlic, tastes like it has garlic in it. A lot, actually. You can feel it seeping out of your pores within a few seconds of eating it. And that is not a bad thing.

Kruegermann pickles have been made with "old world" recipes since the late 19th century. For years I have passed their products at Taylor's butcher shop in Sierra Madre and not thought twice about them. (Of course, as recently as 6 years ago I did not like pickles.) But a couple weeks ago I picked up a bottle of their Spicy Garlic Pickles, thought the description sounded good, and bought it. They are very good, and quite spicy. Unlike the sweetness of roasted garlic in the steak sauce, these are aggressive. They have the punch of freshly chopped garlic and red chili peppers. 

I microwaved the burger for half a minute, spread the Zankou garlic sauce on top of the (unnaturally) orange cheese, put a few slices of pickle on the top bun, and drizzled the steak sauce over all of it. I took a bite, as full of anticipation as any meal I have had since trying the Angry Whopper back in January, hoping this would be much better.

It was. It was awesome, in fact. I don't know if I could eat more than one like this. Well, that's not true, I could eat every burger like this for the rest of my life. What I mean is, I'm not sure it's advisable to eat more than one like this. It was intense. The spice of the pickles played nicely off the sweetness of the steak sauce. And the Zankou sauce was Zankou sauce: powerful and delicious. (Of all the beautiful lines Jonathan Gold has ever written - and they are legion - none is more succinct than his take on this sauce: "Nothing on heaven or Earth may be as severe as the Armenian garlic sauce served at Zankou Chicken.")

Granted, this isn't for everyone. I told my brother about this and he said "That's awesome." I showed Elizabeth the pictures and she said "What the hell is wrong with you?" But I loved it. Even if I never make one of these again - and knowing how way leads to way, I probably won't - I will remember it.

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