To beef or not to beef: a mistaken belief

AN INDIAN FRIEND came to the UK to work in the early 1960s. Shortly afterwards, his wife joined him. Back in those days before they became prosperous, one of their occasional treats was to eat in a Wimpy Bar.

My friend and his wife used to order hamburgers, which she enjoyed. Being a devout Hindu, she wanted to avoid eating beef. For years, she believed that the hamburgers were made from ham rather than any other meat. As she enjoyed these burgers so much, her husband decided not to reveal to her that the hamburgers were not made with ham, but with the meat her religion had taught her to avoid. Later, when she discovered that her hamburgers were made with beef, she did forgive her husband for, rather mischievously, concealing that information from her.

This true story, which I was told many years ago, came back to me when I saw a meat store in the grounds of the Bangalore Club (in Bangalore, India). Entertainingly called Meister Wurst, this place sells various prepared meats such as sausages, hams, and salamis. All are made to resemble products made in Germany, but they are manufactured in Bangalore.

There is a large coloured photograph in the front of the store. This image depicts a mouth-watering looking beefburger with the usual accompaniments, all contained between the two halves of a burger bun topped with sesame seeds. Above the photograph are two words, which would have pleased my beef avoiding, hamburger loving friend:
“Ham Burger”.

PS The name ‘hamburger’ has nothing to do with its ingredients. It comes from the name of the German city of Hamburg, where the dish might or might not have been ‘invented’.

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