Dancing with a hamburger
Twenty-three, that’s how old I was walked onto a dance floor for the first time. The bride and groom danced first, then the bride with her father and the groom with his mom. As the first few bars of the third song began to play the bandleader announced that this was the bridal party dance. I nearly froze. No one had warned me of this particular tradition. I watched as my fellow groomsmen took the hands of the bridesmaid with whom they had exited the sanctuary.
I had been paired with a lovely young woman, a friend of the bride. Feeling I had no other choice, I placed a hand on her waist, pulled her close, and whispered into her ear, “I am SO sorry.” During the three minutes that followed, my patent-leather size-ten, EEE’s must have stepped on her delicate feet at least three dozen times.
How is it that I had made it though middle school, high school, and college without dancing? Well, it wasn’t that I was a wallflower or shy around girls. I had slipped my hand around the waist of a number of girls and pulled them close in my day, just not on a dance floor; and at a party, I could work the room with confidence. The reason I had never learned to dance was because I had grown up Baptist.
In the grand scheme of things, having parents that didn’t allow their kids to dance probably didn’t cause much lasting damage. And I’m beginning to suspect, that being denied the experience of publicly swaying to music might have made me more sensitive to some of the everyday rhythms of life.
What for some might be routines, feels to me a whole lot like dancing. Preparing a meal in my kitchen, for example, feels a whole lot like what I think dancing is supposed must be like. Not a predictable box step but more like improvisational movement. The seasons too, feel very dance-like: the check-to-check slow dance of winter, the joyful tap dance of spring, the steamy salsa of summer, then the elegant waltz of autumn. The transitions from once season to another even have their own rhythm, the downbeat between the two upbeats.
As winter gives way to spring, I’ll be moving some of my non-dance dancing outside, firing up the grill and these meatloaf burgers will provide the perfect transition from the comfort food of winter to the many cookouts that warmer weather will bring.
I’ve tried to dance a dozen times or so since that wedding, even took a couple lessons. I still awful, my wife can attest to that. But I can cook and sometimes, especially when the right dish aligns with the season, I get a sense of what Fred Astaire must have felt like dancing with Ginger Rogers.
So, if you are looking for me on a Friday or Saturday night this spring, you won’t find me on the dance floor. You might find me, however, out in my backyard, dancing with a hamburger.
Hickory Meatloaf Burgers with Sharp Cheddar
- 1 lb. ground beef
- 1/2 lb. ground sausage
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
- 2 cups crushed corn flakes
- 2 eggs well beaten
- Sharp Cheddar (slices or shredded)
- 2 cups catsup
- 1/2-cup water
- 3 teaspoons white vinegar
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon liquid hickory smoke
Add all sauce ingredients to a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer. Let simmer for 10 minutes. Divide the sauce in two; half for brushing on the patties while grilling and the other have to serve with the burgers.
Preheat a grill to medium high. While it is heating up combine the meatloaf ingredients (beef, sausage, salt, onion, cornflakes, and eggs) in a large bowl and form them into eight 1-inch-thick patties. Grill for about 6-8 minutes, Turn the patties over, brush with half of the sauce, and continue grilling until cooked through, about five more minutes. Turn to brush the other side with the sauce then top with cheese. Remove burgers when the cheese has melted. Toast the buns, if desired. Serve with the other half of the sauce along with sliced onions, lettuce, pickles, and any other toppings desired.