Summer means long, lazy afternoons lounging in the yard or by the pool side, grilling meats like hamburgers, sausages, and hot dogs. The hamburger has had a long tradition.
In 1802, the Oxford English Dictionary defined Hamburg steak as salt beef. It had little resemblance to the hamburger we know today. It was a hard slab of salted minced beef, often slightly smoked, mixed with onions and breadcrumbs. The emphasis was more on durability than taste. “ – Hamburger History
Sailors from Hamburg, Germany, crossed the Baltic Sea regularly and returned with a taste for the minced raw beef dishes served up in Russian ports. The German haus-frau’s interpretation of these Baltic dishes was to fry or broil the patties. And voila! The Hamburg steak was born. By the late 1700’s the British knew them as Hamburg sausages.
Enter Hannah Glasse and her famous Art of Cookery book, which featured a recipe for Hamburgh sausage.
“By the mid-18th century, German immigrants also begin arriving in England. One recipe, titled “Hamburgh Sausage,” appeared in Hannah Glasse’s 1758 English cookbook called The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy. It consisted of chopped beef, suet, and spices. The author recommended that this sausage be served with toasted bread. Hannah Glasse’s cookbook was also very popular in Colonial America, although it was not published in the United States until 1805. This American edition also contained the “Hamburgh Sausage” recipe with slight revisions.” – History and Legends of Hamburger
By 1834, the menu of Delmonico’s in New York City advertised a Hamburger steak. And the rest, as they say, is history. Today the humble hamburger is popular the world over due to the marketing genius (or avarice?) of McDonald’s and other fast food chains.
Image description: Two men are working with knives and cleavers as another makes sausages, a woman has come to buy and is holding some money in her hand. Coloured etching. A pork-butcher’s shop: two butchers are working with knives and cleavers as another makes sausages, a woman has come to buy and is holding some money in her hand. Coloured etching, 18-. 19th c.” – Wellcome Trust
More on the topic:
- Wellcome Image Collection
- A Culture Revealed Through Comfort Food
- The Art of Cookery: Google eBook
- Hannah Glasse and The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy
- 19th Century Cookbooks and the British Housewife