Wednesday, February 14, 2007

It's What I Crave

Do you ever go so long without eating something that once you get a craving you are so swept up into the depths of this craving that you not only want and need to eat that food, but you need the absolute perfect version of the object of your desire?

The happens to me every couple of months and when it strikes, it's nearly debilitating. I call it the Craving Conundrum. Occasionally, it's the perfect slice of pepperoni pizza or other times it's a batch of perfectly crisp, beer battered onion rings, but when it usually hits, it's for a burger. I've spent entire weekends driving and roaming and waiting in fear of not getting the perfect burger. And there are so many options!! There's the Groveland Tap where you can get a killer Cajun Lucy stuffed with jalapenos and cheese. That's good, but a Lucy is not a regular burger, she's too tarted up. There are the burgers and malts at the Convention. An Edina classic and the malts can't be beat, but the burger... it's just not quite there. It's a damn good burger, don't get me wrong, but when the Craving Conundrum hits, I need the granddaddy of all burgers. I'm looking for perfection. I'm looking for the Anchor Bar, which can be tough as it's located at the end of the strip in Superior, Wisconsin.

You ever been to Superior, or Soup town as we call it? Oh, if you missed the chance in your 20's you really haven't lived, brother! It's a desolate strip of land where bars sprout up more often than an Evangelical sex scandal. It's a hard town. Hard to make a decent living and hard to maintain any healthy living. What was once a bustling town from the shipyards and immigrants has wheezed to a strung out college town with a few hard working souls hanging on. While Duluth went out and got herself pretty for the tourism industry, Superior stayed behind. Superior is Ezmeralda to Duluth's Cinderella. But how can you not have a little place in your heart for a place where happiness is hard won? Or cheaply bought, as the case may be. I don't think I've ever spent more than $2.75 for a drink in the whole city.

And while my liver has swollen to capacity, my visits to Superior have grown fewer and farther between. That was until the Craving Conundrum hit in the middle of last Saturday afternoon. Buuuurrrgger. Buuurrrggeerrrr! CHEEESEEEE BUUURRRGER!!! "Hey, let's go to the Anchor!" I chirped to my husband at the wheel. That man does love a road trip.

Now, a word about the atmosphere (if I haven't already created enough.) The Anchor is not the sort of place you go to in your Sunday best. No. It's also not the place to go if you're feeling like a little vino or a martooni. You're going to get beer and you're going to like it. It's going to be flat, but cold. The light will be so dim your eyes will have to adjust even if you're arriving after dark. And you will never, ever be able to entirely take in all of the crap that is hanging on these walls. If you're lucky, you'll be able to land a seat at that table with barber chairs for seats.

Really, it's worth the trip just to see this place and what you'll spend on gas, you'll save on booze and food. Now, this burger.... Ooohhhhh, yeah..... this burger is an absolute vision in stark beauty. You get grilled to perfection, fresh ground beef cooked on a grill that's seen more action than Anna Nicole Smith got in her whole lifetime. The char, the flavor that your lunch will pick up from this ancient grease-top is total food alchemy. That thar is black gold. The bun is just a simple bakery bun grilled up for a couple of minutes and that's it, unless you ask for more. The basic burger is an astounding $2.25. No shit. But wait, there's more!! Spring for a couple of extra pennies and there's no end to what you can get! My mom's favorite is the Blue Cheese burger. Matt got the bacon cheeseburger with grilled onions. And thank you, Jesus, there's real bacon on here! Real, chewy, hearty bacon!! I got the good ol' cheeseburger (because, hey, I'm in Wisconsin.) Ohhhhh... it was heaven. The fries are equally amazing; actual cut and fried real potatoes. Not some frozen shit in a bag off a truck (CHATTERBOX!) Oooo.... so goood. I got a really damn good Bloody Mary, too! Just as straight forward and delicious as everything else we'd encountered there. I even slugged down my flat, beer chaser while gazing around, just trying to look at everything. Every inch of wall and ceiling space is adorned with some sort of ocean or fishing paraphernalia. I just imagine what a refuge this place must be for all the guys working on the tacconite ships.

The music was loud and the waitresses were astonishingly kind. (Usually, the people working in a gruff Al's breakfast kind of way, except I think they mean to be mean.) The girl working the grill had to be a sweetie-pie college student, and here she is with all these roughneck regulars. I envy her for the stories she'll cull from this experience. That's enough to last for a lifetime of experience.

My craving was so satisfied and yet I still wanted to order five more, just because it's that effing good. The minute the last bite is gone and the final fry is dunked in ketchup and disappears, you wish you could do it all over again. I wished I was hungry just so I could get that blissful fix. Matt turned to me and said, "I've never had a burger make me hungrier before." I couldn't have said it better myself. So, I slipped into my cheap booze to wait for her to work that magic and make me another.


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