Hamburger vs. Hamburg

It’s time to lay down the law. Hamburgers are named after the large German city of Hamburg, which was the hub by which they eventually made their way to America. Wikipedia’s got all the info you need. The story goes that they came to Germany from Russia, and to Russia from wherever the hell (I don’t remember).

When Japanese people and other people claim with gusto (the thing, not the place) that Americans eat hamburgers like Japanese eat rice, I wonder where they got their information. I’m American and I eat hamburgers like I eat grilled octopus arm, which is seldom and only in Japan, when it’s convenient. My brother hasn’t eaten a hamburger in at least thirteen years and my other brother probably about as long. I hear about people who eat McDonald’s and the like everyday, and I think 1) “These people are freaks of nature” and 2) “Where are these people?” Because I’ve never met them. I’ve met many Japanese people who eat rice everyday.

So that’s one grievance. Here’s another. In Japan, most restaurants and cafes offer either “hamburgers”, “hamburg”, or both. A “hamburg” is what English speakers might call a “hamburger patty” or if they’re feeling adventurous, a “sirloin steak”. It refers to a hamburger with no bun. In real-life English speech, you might even just say, “some hamburger”, as opposed to “a hamburger,” which would mean the sandwich.

Being a fan of food myself, I often talk about it in class. “What food do you like?” I’ll ask my students. Sometimes one of them answers, “I like hamburg.” It’s invariably someone rude.

“Oh, you like hamburger?” I’ll repeat for confirmation, since nobody says “hamburg” in real life unless they’re talking about a place.

“Hamburg,” the rude child will repeat rudely. “Shows what you know, Captain Bad-Ears.”

I’m tired of being mistaken for being mistaken about this. The next time some smart-aleck kid tries to give me the third degree about this, I’m gonna turn his ass into a sirloin steak. Then, let’s say his name is Ryota, because that’s the name of a kid I happen to hate. I’m gonna turn his ass into sirloin steak and call it “Ryot” and watch how people cringe. Cringe because of how awkward that sounds. “Ryot.” “Hamburg”. It’s the same thing. Both sound awkward, both involve murder.

I need a drink.

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