I spent two months in North Idaho, ending on Tuesday last week.
I thought it might be fun and gratifying to reflect from time to time over the next week or so about what has stayed with me about this visit.
I loved the burgers. I get tired, in Eugene, of the hamburger having become a gourmet entree, with blue cheese and avocado and other fancified ways of preparing it, so that when I come to Kellogg and to North Idaho, I can rest assured that I will be able to eat honest hamburgers, whether off the bbq in Mom's or SilverValleyGirl's back yard or whether at one of the local eateries that treats the hamburger in plain, straightforward ways.
No one in the Silver Valley fixes an Event Burger or a Happening Burger. That's what I hate in Eugene. Everything has to be an Event or a Happening or part of a Scene. Even burgers.
But in the Silver Valley, at Carlin Bay, in Potlatch, in Orofino, and especially in Murray, the hamburgers were real.
I ate the best hamburger I've had in years....well, let me rephrase: I might have had the best hamburger of my life at the Sprag Pole Cafe in Murray, Idaho. Wait. Just a second. I think I scanned a picture of the Sprag Pole that George Goetzman took and turned into a greeting card. I'll be right back - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -Found it! Here:
Everything about the burger I had at the Sprag Pole was perfect. I wish I knew something about the beef. It was the best ground beef I've ever tasted in a burger. I wonder if it was fresh or a cut of beef superior to what is usually used in burgers, but this hamburger's patty was almost as melt in the mouth good as prime rib. Not only that, the patty was generous. It was thick. So the sweet taste of the generous patty was augmented by the its size and by how it was cooked all the way through, while retaining its juiciness.
I did not want to finish this burger. I kept taking long slow bites, sinking my teeth into the core of the patty as patiently as I could, letting the juices of the beef and the sweet catsup and biting mustard and fresh tomato and sweet onion all reward me with their slow pleasures.
I took a bite, admired its taste, set the burger down, admired it, let the taste rest in my mouth, and reluctantly picked up the burger for another bite. I was reluctant only because another bite meant I was getting closer to finishing this great sandwich and I never wanted this experience to end.
But, end it did and, now that I'm back in Eugene, I must go out into the many rural areas of Lane County and see if there's a burger universe that parallels the universe of the Sprag Pole Cafe.
Or will I have to wait until I return to North Idaho to once again experience such a full and generous burger?