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NY Times culturally appropriates Oklahoma onion burger…

9:12 AM EDT on July 20, 2022

Although there are a lot of advantages, one thing that sucks about being a white man in Oklahoma is that you never really get a chance to complain about cultural appropriation.

Yes, this is primarily due to the fact that we – along with many of our loyal white female counterparts – have been leading the way in appropriating for centuries, and it doesn't take a trip to Ted's to know that's a fact.

Anyway, since I rarely get that chance to cry foul about appropriation, you can't blame me for taking the opportunity to wag my finger at the coastal elitists at the New York Times for writing a nice, friendly, 1,200-word salute to our state's #1 food staple – The Oklahoma Onion Burger – and not talking to an actual Oklahoman.

Instead, they talked to a guy from Long Island who hosted a burger show on the Travel Channel:

The onion burger has reached newfound popularity in recent years, largely as a result of George Motz, author of “Hamburger America” and host of First We Feast’s “Burger Scholar Sessions” series on YouTube. (In fact, the first time I had a burger specifically referred to as an Oklahoma onion burger was in 2009, when Mr. Motz and Mr. Ozersky hosted small bimonthly gatherings at R.U.B. Barbecue in New York, where the chef Scott Smith recreated an array of regional burger styles from Mr. Motz’s book.) During the pandemic, Mr. Motz delivered onion burgers via a “burger slide,” a chute that dispensed burgers from a kitchen window in Brooklyn to hungry socially distanced customers on the street below. He has since wrapped up a Northern European tour, serving onion burgers to sold-out crowds. His YouTube videos on onion burgers have racked up millions of views.

I know the New York Times treats Oklahoma like it's a foreign land, but how can they profile Oklahoma onion burgers and not interview an Oklahoman? This would be like the NY Times writing an article about NY-style pizza and interviewing Rob The Pepperoni Situation! Maybe next week they'll publish a piece about Indian tacos and get feedback from a fry-bread expert who lives in Vermont.

Here's more:

I talked to Mr. Motz on the phone about what makes the onion burger work so well. According to him, the answer is twofold. First, it’s how, in a well-prepared onion burger, you achieve multiple onion flavors in the same sandwich: the sweetly caramelized ones in direct contact with the griddle, the soft steamed rings pressed into the meat and gnarled, nearly burned shreds that frizzle out of the burger’s edges the way my daughter draws hair with crayons. Beyond that, there’s the onion vapor that permeates the soft bun. These textures and flavors yield a remarkable depth that varies from bite to bite. But even more important is the amplifying effect that onions have on the beef flavor.

Listen. We appreciate the fact that a burger-loving YouTube guy helped popularize a regional specialty that we've been eating in Oklahoma since the 1930s – the more people who enjoy the onion burger the better – but if you want the low down on an Oklahoma onion burger, shouldn't you call an actual Oklahoman? You know, somebody who's spent their entire life cooking, selling, and consuming onion burgers?

For example, you could always hit up my old roommate from college.

When we lived in 122nd & Penn land in the late 90s, he'd drive down to Chickasha and work at his dad's restaurant – The J&W Grill – a couple of weekends each month. When he'd return home on Sunday night, he'd smelled like he had just taken a bath in grease and caramelized onions.

He'd also bring back a huge paper sack filled to the brim with onion burgers. Although our apartment routinely smelled like an onion burger stand  – hey ladies – it was a small price to pay to have a juicy, freshly microwaved meat-and-onion fueled sensation just minutes from your mouth.

Yep, NY Times food guy – onion burgers taste great microwaved, too! They're like frozen White Castles on crack. Put that in your article!

Actually, knowing the New York Times as we do, they'll probably update the article with a quote from someone at Tucker's – a.k.a. The Ted's of Oklahoma onion burgers.

Anyway, although they bizarrely omitted any Oklahomans from an article about Oklahoma onion burgers, I guess it's still good the NY Times talked about them. I'm sure we'll get a bunch of east coast onion burger tourists visiting the state this fall. Plus, it finally let me experience cultural appropriation. I think I finally get it.

Stay with The Lost Ogle. We'll keep you advised.

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