I was reading Abandoning Edens post about her first time eating crab and lobster and it got me thinking about cheeseburgers and their use as the ultimate sin according to my yeshiva high school Rabbis.
There were a few points stressed over and over again in my high school, if they didn’t have to do with masturbation or how evil girls were- until it was time to get married and they did this Kafkaesque switch from evil monsters to the ones that would make us happy and support us in kollel or the least cook our meals- it had to do with cheeseburgers.
That’s right, I must have heard any number of statements basically describing the cheeseburger as the ultimate sin, so sinful that it competed with the original sin of Adam and Eve. There were many chances for the Rabbis to use the cheeseburger as the symbol of gashmius, evil, satan, yetzer harah, peer pressure, treife, and countless other terms to make us revere and fear the lowly cheeseburger which was created by satan himself.
It was later on in life that I found out that a true treife cheeseburger was hard to come by. For one thing the meat and cheese both had to be kosher in order to create the perfectly treife cheeseburger, because unbeknownst to my puny 15 year old self, bassar v’chalov the prohibition against deriving any benefit whatsoever from the combining of milk and meat meant that both products had to be kosher.
I of course started pondering about such trivial things as who considers what kosher. What about a Hebrew National hot dog with kosher cheese? What about Hebrew National products after they got the triangle-K hechsher which means someone must think they are kosher- would I violate the grave sin of mixing milk and meat? What about the ultra orthodox- would they even consider empire meat and cholav stam milk kosher- then they could probably eat loads of things and not they are succumbing to the yetzer harah himself.
I was never infatuated with the idea of meat and cheese, in fact the mere thought of certain meat and cheese combinations gross me out, especially the cheeseburger. I am appalled at melting yellow cheese with plastic derivatives- maybe the book Fast Food Nation grossed me out, but I am pretty sure that true treifus does not appeal to me. On the other hand, the $5.95 all you can eat bread and salad from Olive Garden is the ultimate nisayon. I also do recall buying the lunch special at a local treife Chinese restaurant during 8th and 9th grades because it was $4.95 for the whole thing. But cheeseburgers should have been substituted for the Rabbis points were never forked over to me.
Then a buddy of mine tells me about his breaking of a his cheeseburger virginity experience. He said that after years of hearing Rabbis proselytize against the evil cheeseburger he was as excited of a yeshiva guy getting his first porn magazine. He was giddy with excitement until he dived in and said he could not describe the disappointment. Like years of hopes and dreams being washed down the drain, the excitement gone and a half eaten gastrointestinal nightmare lying on the silver wax paper in dismay. All the sudden all of what the Rabbis of our yeshiva were discounted because they had obviously never tried a real cheeseburger.