Tuesday, December 1, 2015


You know, I spend a lot of time thinking I arrived in Los Angeles at least a few generations too late.  Where are the cool, Googie restaurants of yesteryear?  Dark, dark, they’ve all gone into the dark.  That’s where you’ll also find Scandia – offering a “taste of Sweden” (above) just down the Strip from Dino’s Lodge, as in Martin, (below) and a great many more.

 Of course some classics remain – and a few new places work hard on recreating a retro vibe, but until time travel is perfected it’s just not going to be the same.

Until recently it would have been possible to go to Papoo’s Hot Dog Show on the Burbank/Toluca Lake boundary (I admit that it gave me a certain Californian thrill to type “Burbank/Toluca Lake boundary”) but until last Sunday I didn’t even know of Papoo's existence, at which point I simultaneously discovered it had closed down and become another branch of Umami Burger (a perfectly good chain, though I think its fans overstate its charms).

To be fair, the new regime has kept a lot of the old hot dog joint charm (though not the really cool sign, inevitably) and there’s also a hot dog list, though to be equally fair, I imagine the old customers and probably the management of Papoo’s would have run a mile at the mere mention of “umami.”

My friend Joe, I discovered, had his fifth birthday party at Papoo’s – he doesn’t remember the hotdog but he does remember being given a whistle in the shape of a hotdog.

So, going there last Sunday, I had the Manly Burger (of course) “house beer-cheddar cheese, bacon lardons, smoked-salt onion strings, Umami ketchup, mustard spread.” It was good, and I could easily believe it contained the world’s biggest lardons, actually more like great chunks of pork, which is fine by me.

But being the folks we are, we started speculating about what a Girly Burger – as opposed to Manly Burger - would be like.  It would have to be pink, surely, but girly girls obviously don’t want rare pink beef, and we suspected that in fact girly girls possibly don’t eat burgers at all, and certainly not with lardons and probably not with smoked salt onions, or the pickle plate, which looked like this:

So maybe the Girly Burger wouldn’t be a real burger at all but some kind of confectionary made out of cupcakes and fondant.  But since the women in our own group were tucking into chili dogs and onion rings and wolfing down pickles, we pretty much decided we didn’t know, or care, what girly girls eat.

A little online googling doesn’t reveal much about what a real, or speculative “girly burger” might be, though I did find a game called Burger Girly which involves a girl – or at least a chef or possibly a waitress - assembling a burger, although those ingredients look butch enough to me.

I wonder if there could be a future for the gender-inclusive burger, which might, of course, simply be called a burger.

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