The Greens That Never Belong On Burgers, According To Anthony Bourdain

Anthony Bourdain was a huge fan of sandwiches. He loved a good pastrami on rye — something he would get at the Pastrami Queen, the sandwich shop Bourdain always visited when he was in New York City. He also worshipped the sandwiches at Salumi in Seattle, Washington, but when it came to a very special sandwich known as the hamburger, the "Parts Unknown" host was a fan of fast food favorite In-N-Out.

What was it about this burger that grabbed Bourdain's affection? Most notably, it doesn't contain baby arugula or mesclun layered on it. Per the New York Daily News, the chef shared in his cookbook, "Appetites," that if you put these on your hamburger, "Guantánamo Bay would not be an unreasonable punishment." The outlet went on to explain that Bourdain preferred these leafy greens in a side salad.

Mesclun is a blend of different types of greens that can include arugula, endive, chervil, young red and green lettuces, baby spinach, and radicchio, to name a few. What you get really depends on the brand of mixed greens you purchase, meaning the taste of mesclun is going to vary. That makes it difficult to get consistent results — a no-no for Bourdain when it comes to the integrity of a burger. 

Adding veggies to burgers also causes structural problems

Unlike mesclun, baby arugula generally has a consistently mild, peppery taste to it. If you like a mild kick, baby arugula seems like a great addition to a hamburger. So what was Anthony Bourdain's beef with this green? He wasn't completely opposed to veggies on his burger; he just felt arugula ran afoul of another one of his golden rules for hamburgers.

In a video clip, Bourdain explained to Insider Tech that while he liked a little lettuce and tomato on his burger, he also liked to keep things simple because you should be able to hold one of these sandwiches in one hand and "get a representative chunk of all the elements." When you add veggies to a burger, it makes it "structurally more difficult to eat."

Translation: You shouldn't take a bite of your burger only to find you are wearing that lettuce on your shirt or in your lap. In fact, if a burger is that difficult to eat, Bourdain even labeled it as guilty of "the greatest sin" in "burgerdom." So while baby arugula or mesclun may add a new kick of flavor, it does make the burger harder to eat — and if that's a deal-breaker for you as much as it was for Bourdain, skip stacking the greens on a patty and save them for a salad instead.