Summer’s right around the bend so we thought we’d spend some time on the history of our favorite sandwich – the hamburger!
As one of Omaha’s oldest and best known “Fast Food” restaurants, we love the history behind our food as much as the history of our city. For the next few posts we’ll be sharing sections of a great article we found explaining some of the history of our beloved hamburger. We hope you enjoy it. And remember, we love hearing from you on our Facebook page, so be sure to like us.
In honor of our favorite sandwich, for the rest of the month enjoy our Big Bronco Dollar Deal – Buy a Big Bronco Hamburger and grab a second for only a buck.
Tracing history back thousands of years, we learn that even the ancient Egyptians ate ground meat, and down through the ages we also find that ground meat has been shaped into patties and eaten all over the world under many different name.
Thanks to the whatscookingamerica.net website for this article.
by Linda Stradley
1209-1121 – Genghis Khan (1167-1227), crowned the “emperor of all emperors,” and his army of fierce Mongol horsemen, known as the “Golden Horde,” conquered two thirds of the then known world. The Mongols were a fast-moving, cavalry-based army that rode small sturdy ponies. They stayed in their saddles for long period of time, sometimes days without ever dismounting. They had little opportunity to stop and build a fire for their meal.
The entire village would follow behind the army on great wheeled carts they called “yurts,” leading huge herds of sheep, goats, oxen, and horses. As the army needed food that could be carried on their mounts and eaten easily with one hand while they rode, ground meat was the perfect choice. They would use scrapings of lamb or mutton which were formed into flat patties. They softened the meat by placing them under the saddles of their horses while riding into battle. When it was time to eat, the meat would be eaten raw, having been tenderized by the saddle and the back of the horse.
1238 – When Genghis Khan’s grandson, Khubilai Khan (1215-1294), invaded Moscow, they naturally brought their unique dietary ground meat with them. The Russians adopted it into their own cuisine with the name “Steak Tartare,” (Tartars being their name for the Mongols). Over many years, Russian chefs adapted and developed this dish and refining it with chopped onions and raw eggs.
Beginning in the fifteenth century, minced beef was a valued delicacy throughout Europe. Hashed beef was made into sausage in several different regions of Europe.
1600s – Ships from the German port of Hamburg, Germany began calling on Russian port. During this period the Russian steak tartare was brought back to Germany and called “tartare steak.”
18th and 19th Centuries
In the late eighteenth century, the largest ports in Europe were in Germany. Sailors who had visited the ports of Hamburg, Germany and New York, brought this food and term “Hamburg Steak” into popular usage. To attract German sailors, eating stands along the New York city harbor offered “steak cooked in the Hamburg style.”
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.
Immigrants to the United States from German-speaking countries brought with them some of their favorite foods. One of them was Hamburg Steak. The Germans simply flavored shredded low-grade beef with regional spices, and both cooked and raw it became a standard meal among the poorer classes. In the seaport town of Hamburg, it acquired the name Hamburg steak. Today, this hamburger patty is no longer called Hamburg Steak in Germany but rather “Frikadelle,” “Frikandelle” or “Bulette,” orginally Italian and French words.
According to Theodora Fitzgibbon in her book The Food of the Western World – An Encyclopedia of food from North American and Europe:
The originated on the German Hamburg-Amerika line boats, which brought emigrants to America in the 1850s. There was at that time a famous Hamburg beef which was salted and sometimes slightly smoked, and therefore ideal for keeping on a long sea voyage. As it was hard, it was minced and sometimes stretched with soaked breadcrumbs and chopped onion. It was popular with the Jewish emigrants, who continued to make Hamburg steaks, as the patties were then called, with fresh meat when they settled in the U.S.
The Origin of Hamburgers and Ketchup, by Prof. Giovanni Ballarini:
The origin of the hamburger is not very clear, but the prevailing version is that at the end of 1800′ s, European emigrants reached America on the ships of the Hamburg Lines and were served meat patties quickly cooked on the grill and placed between two pieces of bread.
We’ll continue the article Friday with “Invention of Meat Chopper”. You’re not going to want to miss this one.
Bronco’s East: 4540 Leavenworth Street, Omaha, NE.
Bronco’s West: 1123 South 120th Street, Omaha, NE.
Hours: Monday – Sunday 9:00 am to 10:00 pm