Epic Burgers

5 Sep

I didn’t plan to come to Mexico to eat burgers. Yes, burgers. Not burritos. Not chimichangas (which aren’t real Mexican food anyway). No. Burgers. Go figure. I’ve been a vegetarian, most of the time, since I was 11 years old. The exceptions have been mostly when I’ve been out of the U.S., which has been quite a bit in the past 10 years. Even so, the past several countries have all been in Latin America, and while I’ve eaten meat there (even Chilean versions of hot dogs!), I have not eaten a burger in at least 7 years. I believe the last time I ate a burger I was in Italy, with a horrendous case of boot-rot, and in an effort to avoid walking my travel partner got us McDonald’s, since it was the only very close food available where we were staying. (We swore each other to secrecy from the shame and irony.)I don’t even like burgers, or most meat, really. I eat it when I’m away because I want to try all the typical food in a country, because it’s convenient and I don’t always have access to what I would normally cook for myself, because I don’t want to reject food that kind people offer me. But I don’t get excited about meat, especially burgers.
But we walk down the street to visit Epic (whose name is actually Epigmenio, who people call Epig, which sounds more like Epic). I am not planning on eating a burger. But I am desperate to get out of the house, so I gladly accompany Conan, with Lucia wrapped up against my chest, of course. Epic is friendly. He speaks directly to me. He smiles- and has very cute dimples, by the way. He has that idiosyncratic I’m-super-busy-working-very-fast-but-it’s-all-cake-to-me, laid-back attitude that experts in the service industry do so well. It’s the first time I’ve seen that attitude here in Mexico, where tips do not prevail. It takes me back to that camaraderie of the restaurant business in Louisville. He chats with us despite the blaring volume of telenovelas, which he glimpses at from time to time- super multitasking, as busy as he is that night.
I can’t believe how many people come for his burgers. That night he runs out of burgers, so many people come, but he still has some hotdogs left…. More than the sheer quantity of burgers, I can’t believe what these burgers look like. I watch him prepare plenty of them before he gets around to taking our order- and by then I’ve decided that yes, I have to have one. Because these are Mexican burgers, after all. And not just Mexican burgers- these are fucking epic burgers.
Let’s see if I can manage to name all the ingredients:
-the burger (which I might add, is local beef, ground the same day, formed into patties by hand that afternoon- although I didn’t learn that till later)
-american cheese (or some equivalent of gross orange-yellow version of cheese, ew)
-pineapple (for the Hawaiian burger, which I ordered)
-quesillo (delicious Oaxacan melty cheese)
-fried onions
-ketchup AND mustard AND mayonnaise
And the verdict is in…. they’re fantastic! (Okay, so I got mine without bacon or American cheese. Even when doing as the Romans do and all that, you gotta have some standards.) You might think I can’t make a fair comparison, since I hadn’t had a burger in years. But come on, converting a vegetarian is a pretty impressive feat.  I advise you all to abandon your fast food burgers immediately, and high tail it to Juquila.
Even more important than the burgers (and what, you ask, could be more important than burgers?), I’m turning Epic into my first friend in Juquila. Call it instinct, sixth sense, intuition, whatever- Epic exudes friend-material energy; he’s friendly but also, I think, sarcastic and skeptical, he’s funny and giggles easily, and I think he’s strong and tough and nice and lovely. I don’t actually know him, especially not that first night when I go and eat his hamburgers, but I warn him that same night that he’s gonna end up being my friend. More details on that later, but I will mention that so far so good- he’s even the first visitor that’s come to the house to see ME (not for Conan, not for Lucia- but to talk to me!)…. I think it’s gonna be an epic friendship.

One Response to “Epic Burgers”


  1. From the Weeds Up… Building a House with Sand and Rocks and Magic | exile to mexico - May 4, 2014

    […] wet. But by then our good friend Epig (who you may recall from my post about his amazing burgers https://exiletomexico.wordpress.com/2012/09/05/hamburguesas-epic/) had lent us his small generator, so they worked by the light of Thomas Edison’s amazing […]

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