I hold it in my two hands and just look at it. It is the Grand Canyon. The Mona Lisa. The Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue.

It is, in short, a wonder to behold.

Not only that, but you can eat it. Which I will do in a minute. But first, I just want to gaze upon it, this stunning, edible geology of color and texture.

On top is a tan, soft dome of bun. Immediately beneath, a stratum of green, crispy lettuce, then a layer of red, droplet-glistening tomato, and below that a band of white, crunchy onion. All of it sinks into a lava flow of melted cheese that encases, as if in amber, the charred, brown, juicy center of this universe, the burger. A glimmering rivulet of juice runs down its side and along the bottom disk of golden bun, like some perfect stream meandering through a forest. I half expect a deer to happen by.

Inside, there are nuances I can't see from here, such as mustard, mayonnaise, and ketchup. Perhaps tucked in there, too, are a couple of pickle slices. Perhaps not. Depends. Even perfection has its variations. My mood determines which variation of perfection I'll create.

Fairly shuddering with anticipation, I pull the whole, big, beautiful geological mess to my mouth, open wide, and chomp.
Ahhhhhhh. Mmmmmmmm. Oh yeah.

Summer.

It is a bittersweet bite because soon, summer will be over.

It's not like I won't make cheeseburgers in the fall, winter, and spring. But there is something about summer and cheeseburgers. And there is something about taking that final bite of that last cheeseburger. You may not even know it's your last summer cheeseburger when you bite into it. But its flavor will linger, like summer itself, long after it is consumed.



The summertime covers of food magazines beckon, taunt, and intimidate me with stunning burger makeovers: 50 Great Burger Recipes. Not Your Same Old Cheeseburger. Your Burger, Yourself. With their gorgonzola and pancetta stuffings, their Italian spice rubs, their Worcestershire sauce marinades, they make me feel hopelessly unimaginative.