When I first went vegetarian, over 20 years ago, there weren’t many burger options around. Or maybe I just lived in the wrong suburb. I ate Veggie Whoppers at Hungry Jacks quite a bit, until one day I saw a cryptic sign next to the Veggie Whopper and chips meal deal: Please note, one or more of these items are not vegetarian. Odd, I thought. Upon enquiry I was told the burger had animal rennet in the cheese, and the chips were pre-cooked in beef fat. So close, and yet so far. What a pity that something that was ostensibly vegetarian was in fact not.
I’ve been vegetarian for ages but I really wish I could be vegan. It would be far more ethical. But it’s hard enough being vegetarian sometimes – someone serving me in a cafe recently was convinced that vegetarians could eat chicken. When asking a restaurant if their food is vegetarian or vegan you are always at the mercy of their understanding of these terms.
I love mushrooms. I really love mushrooms. Faced with the choice of a mushroom burger or a chickpea patty burger I will always go with the mushroom. Not that I’ve got anything against chickpeas – it’s just that when they are mashed into a patty I am usually less than excited and I find the overall flavour lacking.
So here I am in 8-Bit, a funky burger joint in Footscray. I have two choices on the menu – the 1-Up Mushroom Burger or the Zelda, featuring a chickpea patty. I must diversify, I tell myself, and even though it costs $3.50 more than the mushroom burger I decide on the Zelda.
I wonder if there’s some secret formula, like Einstein’s theory of relativity, that governs the perfect construction of a burger so that it doesn’t end up falling apart in a mess before the last bite. Something that describes the diameter of the patty in relation to the diameter of the bun multiplied by the square root of the height of the fillings. Or something like that.
When I stepped into Major Tom’s A Burger Junkie I was greeted by a choice of 4 vastly different vegetarian burgers. Not a bad effort for a carnivorous burger joint. And the ubiquitous (and often boring) veggie patty is not an option. No, someone adventurous has come up wth this menu.