• It arrives. And it’s massive. A burger is best described as an extravagant tower, bursting with flavor, bulging at the seams, held together by the thinnest, most brittle skewer. (Image credit: Bon Appetite).

Eating a Burger: Hands vs. Cutlery

Do you dive in hands first or reach for the knife and fork?

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You’re in a café. You’re scouring the menu, until you come across an old friend – the burger.  Sure it’s not cheat day, but if you have it on a day that isn’t cheat day, then technically you’re still cheating, so it’s ok! So you order it. You’ve made the right choice.

But then it arrives. And it’s massive. Bursting with flavor, bulging at the seams, held together by the thinnest, most brittle skewer. An extravagant tower of angus patties, tomatoes, beetroot, a fried egg, pineapple (if it’s summer), thick cut cheddar, even thicker cut bacon, another fried egg, an entire cos lettuce, house made relish and 47 different kinds of aioli. Laid out horizontally these all sound delicious. Stacked up vertically however, and you’ve got a problem. How are you expected to eat this thing?

Naturally your first thought is to lie down next to it, dislocate your jaw and swallow it whole like a snake. However, this is sometimes frowned upon.

First, you need to study the burger. You’ll often see diners bypass the burger and start with the chips, or spend 20 minutes taking a pic and choosing a filter on Instagram. In reality they spend one minute choosing X-Pro II as usual and the rest of the time studying the burger with the precision of those tweed wearing Edwardian hat stand aficionados on Antiques Roadshow.  

But you won’t want to study it forever, after all this is a burger not a hat stand. You’re hungry, it’s getting cold, and aioli is starting to drip. It’s time to decide – hands or cutlery?




Choosing to ignore the special serrated knife and the table manners of those around you by eating the burger with your hands is a gutsy move, but it feels right. Holding it allows you to experience all the fillings together in perfect harmony, although you do have to endure the disappointing early bites of bun bits and lettuce overhang. A word of caution – hold it too loose and you risk fillings falling, hold it too tight and you’ll shoot one of the 47 types of aioli down your top with paintball like intensity.


Cutlery is undoubtedly the safe option here – no spillage, no stains, no disappointing early bites. You can cut it straight down the middle, but invariably this just turns one impossible to eat burger into two. The best bet is to deconstruct, allowing you to pick and choose flavor combinations and ignore the extra fried egg you specifically asked be excluded. Although be warned – this method of deconstructing and spreading the fillings will make you look like a child or someone off Air Crash Investigators.

Sure, seeing a burger the size of your head placed in front of you is intimidating, and they can be incredibly difficult to eat. But remember this – however you chose to tackle them, they’re delicious. So have some chips, take a deep breath and get stuck in.

As a kid, Melbourne based writer and food lover Tim McDonald poked a hole in a piece of bread and proudly exclaimed to all those around him “Look! I can cook!” Fortunately his tastes and cooking repertoire have expanded, to the point where he no longer needs to go around puncturing perfectly good pieces of bread (although it remains his signature dish). Tim also writes comedy for Seemingly Evil Productions and posts (semi) inspirational quotes on Instagram @timmcdonaldwastaken.



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