The first time I had a burger was sometime in the beginning of nineties, at age 16 or so. It was when I lived with my twin friends and their family. Their American dad, David, an excellent cook, made the best burgers. They were nothing like the hamburgers at Burger Ranch, one of the first Israeli burger chains, which I first learned about when my family moved from a small town in the Negev desert to the big city of Tel Aviv. (Back then there were only one or two burger joints in Israel.)
Before I tried David’s burgers, I had never eaten a hamburger before, especially not at Burger Ranch. None of my new urban friends would have eaten there either, if they had heard the lecture I got from my mother when I told her that my friends were going to Burger Ranch. “Do you know how they prepare the food? With dirty hands, filthy nails and human hair! Their patties are made with parts of the animal that even dogs wouldn’t eat! They can’t keep the place clean, even if they wanted to, because no cleaning product can remove the layers and layers of grease and dust from the walls. And, last but not least, you know what happens to the oil after they use it over and over for frying? Very simple, it releases deadly chemicals.”
Since I was already skeptical about any food not made by my parents, grandmothers or aunts, I didn’t rebel. So, while my modern friends were courageously eating the alien food on their trays, I happily sipped on a vanilla milkshake. Mom never said anything about the milkshake and, of course, I never even told her that I was at a Burger Ranch. By the way, a year or two later, when a friend of mine and I went to visit my friend’s cousin, who worked at one of the first Israeli McDonald’s, he confirmed everything my mother said, and even showed me the filthy kitchen.