Skip to content

watching a hamburger eater … as an existentialist


Eating a hamburger is the gastronomic equivalent of world domination.


I watched him walk into the hotel and order his lunch – They gave him a number on a stick which he sat upright on his table and after a while the little blonde waitress delivered his lunch; his hamburger. Plus chips.

Until the delivery of the food this fellow was behaving like any other member of the general public in that he was sitting still, drinking in moderation and caring not a whisker for those who surrounded him in this public place.

A table or two away a French couple were quietly forking up a small Caesar salad and across the way an Englishman was delicately disseminating a fresh fillet of snapper. A discreet clatter of steel on porcelain. An Australian lady pared her orange into bite sized slivers.

The hamburger eater put away his newspaper, shoved it aside, and he spread his table wide to receive his food, then with both hands he hefted up his meal of bread bun, lettuce, beef, cheese, tomato, onion, relish and bit into it with a mouth as wide and as dislocated as a dumpster. The load was so big his nostrils were clamped up tight and his eyes were squinted against the amino acids extruded by the onions. A red dribble of tomato seeped from his mouth as he chomped and chewed and masticated the load into a manageable paste.

That initial bite done he put the remnant burger down onto his plate and rummaged around for a napkin to clean up the mess around his eyes, mouth and hands. Then he lifted the meal bit into it again, and again – until the it was reduced to a few discarded lettuce leaves and a couple of cold potato chips.

I was reminded of America.

11 Comments Post a comment
  1. joe green #

    i am american and it reminded me of me.

    May 24, 2011
    • Joe, I’m here to say until yesterday I never looked at a hamburger eater subjectively – it was raining at the time and the I’d seen the rugby on Fox the other day.

      May 24, 2011
  2. Mike #

    The inference is well earned Peter, but it is your nation that follows us mindlessly off so many cliffs.

    The little brother without a conscience, ruining his paradise to find that ours is merely a slick marketing campaign.

    Pigs at the trough of consumption reduced to an observation of the ultimate package, the hamburger. Hand held with enough salad to be qualified as well rounded nutrition, the exercise is reduced to fast and easy. Size matters.

    Civility pecks at ceasar and snapper while the dumb downed masses reach for it all in one bite.

    Not a far stretch to include modern fascination with distracting technology, is it? Society faces a growing malignantcy with children who learn interaction through the insulation of their latest technology. I’d expound further, but that would awaken Rebecca to vehemently respond in youth’s defense.

    And the hamburger is merely a portal to that very near future.

    May 31, 2011
    • The English and their fish and chips – equally challenging – and Australians with their massive schooners and endless thirst – gobble gobble gobble – we should all lose teeth early in life – an maintain a 24 hour hunger – Gandhi was right.

      June 3, 2011
  3. Mike #

    less is more

    June 4, 2011
    • the same rule applies to words, I reckon

      June 4, 2011
    • where’s the brew these days mike – having a break?


      June 4, 2011
  4. Mike #

    BreW is vacationing in Romania, ancestral home.

    Claims no wifi in his transylvanian castle, but it’s possibly an agreement with his boss, the wife.

    Great read above, we should all consider our unconscious acts and what they say about our conscious lives.

    June 5, 2011
  5. janne #

    hi peter,
    really enjoy your writing. inspiring! i wonder if you have read richard brautigan’s ‘so the wind won’t blow it all away’. i thought the exact same thing when i thought of why he wrote about a boy who was obsessed with hamburgers and the funeral parlour he lived next door to. he is one of my favourite authors and so i like thinking about what life was like for him in his era and how he wrote so darkly yet so comically all at once. actually he wrote this story before he commited suicide. i think maybe it was his comment on american society. but it is just a guess. if you get a chance, i would also recommend revenge of the lawn, just a bunch of short stories. thank you for this post, it made me go back to my bookshelf and do some rediscovering!

    June 21, 2011
  6. I ate hamburgers for lunch today! And wrote a post about it.

    July 2, 2011
  7. Shane Fisher #

    What I say, is it is just a remnant and our future of our evolutionary past. What you were seeing was the waste part of our DNA, being filled up, supersized you might say. Love the title.

    October 9, 2011

go ahead

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: