i'd like to think of myself as someone who can appreciate a wide variety of things, more so than the average person. however, there is one area where i'm definitely deficient, in the realm of art.
i am not a visual artist in the traditional sense of the word. i have never had an experience at a museum (and i've been to a shit ton of them) that did not result in me bemoaning the amount of walking that had to be done. (yes even the louvre and the palais du versailles was not exempt) i just never got art. sometimes it's kind of nifty and cool, but cubism, impressionism, realism, surrealism, expressionism, pop art, it's all foreign to me. i can't appreciate it. i just don't have that gene, my sister got all of that from me.
because of this, i can accept that people have limitations. we all do. so when people say that they like in n out better than shake shack, i understand that their palette of taste has limitations, that they just don't have the ability to appreciate a higher quality of food, just like i can't tell you the difference between a monet and a van gogh.
i'm not the biggest foodie. i'm a picky eater, so my tastes aren't as eclectic as some of my foodie friends. however, i do believe i am a burger connoisseur. i eat burgers high and low, far and wide, and i try new burgers any time i get the opportunity. there are a few burgers i have yet to try in new york, but i will definitely put those as events on my list of things to do. but in the medium-speed food category, (let's face it, neither shake shack nor in n out, despite its misleading moniker, are fast), there is just no comparison.
of course, that doesn't stop people from trying. a foodie blog did contend that shake shack indeed won a side by side taste comparison (although such a comparison is technically impossible since both franchises do not exist in a nearby area together):
and my own blog entry 3 years ago:
and my yelp review on shake shack written earlier this year:
people say that i'm biased, that because i'm from new york, i'm gonna like shake shack better. and they also admit that the bias works both ways, that californians would probably like in n out better, but that they are essentially equivalent. this is just not so.
since moving to LA, i've probably had in n out about 8-10 times or so. that's an average of once a week. so i know their items well, i've had them plenty of times. their fries are horrific if you don't get them animal style. their shtick revolves around the animal style-ness. but animal style is a gimmick. it is a trick that masks the overall blandness of the actual important part of the meal, the meat of the burger. the meat is just not that good. i've actually had to eat wendy's or mcdonald's once or twice because i was tired of in n out as a burger. it just isn't a good regular option, i would say i go to chick fil a more often that this place. chick fil a is awesome.
until today it had been 75 days at least since i had my last double shack burger. since i had my first shack burger, it's probably been the longest i've been without one by far. i expected the same juicy goodness i've had with every shack burger i've had in the past 6 years.
from what i experienced, i finally understood the old adage: distance makes the heart grow fonder. i literally turned to my shackmate, david tae, and asked him, "was this always this good?" he responded, yeah it's the same old shack burger. i couldn't believe it. it was even better than i ever remembered. having in n out burgers so frequently killed my sense of what a burger should actually be.
it was freshly cooked as we went to the UWS location late night, with few customers around, so the temperature was popping hot, where it was almost burning my tongue. but the juices that flowed out of the meat made the pain well worth it, as i savored every bit of the burger in my mouth.
i actually couldn't respond to my shackmate's conversation he was having, as i had to use my entire mental faculties to enjoy all that the food was offering to me. there was a moment of silence as i had my "anton ego" moment. it truly was an orgasm for my mouth. when God said, "let there be hamburgers", this is what came out of his fingertips. a juicy double shackburger.
i do not get any such enjoyment from an in n out burger. but now i am enlightened; i understand. people have certain limitations to their enjoyment of different aspects of life. just as i cannot appreciate a finely painted mona lisa, i have come to accept that some cannot enjoy the masterpieces that shake shack churns out daily. now instead of feeling indignation when people think in n out is better than shake shack, i merely feel pity. pity that they will never experience the joy that i have experienced, that their capacity to understand the universe of hamburgers is limited to a cheap thousand island dressing. pity that their misplaced loyalty to their childhood burger joint has blinded them from the truth. pity for the meaninglessness their lives must contain for not having experienced the full justice of a shackburger.