It’s not gourmet. Not quite fast-food. At one look, it may not even appeal quite so well. But it tastes damn…hmm…filling. Believe it or not, the Silliman Cafeteria serves a good burger. Of course, you just have to wipe off high expectations born of high social stratum.
I’m not really a burger person. I could even hardly associate a burger with school life. Growing up, my only recollection of something close to a burger was the famous “Maling” bread (made with a slice of Chinese luncheon meat in between a bun cut into half served with mayo-ketchup) of the cafeteria at the Elementary School in Silliman. I could not remember how much it sold for at that time, but I sure knew it was already a treat every time I had it. I admit though that whenever I am served a good burger, I do try to crave it and knight it as among the world’s best.
Today, right after our lunch meeting, I visited “my girls” in the Silliman Caf. They’re like my older sisters (sometimes mothers), having such genuine care for me as if I were their teddy bear. So whenever I am in the Caf, I’d always get a treat from them — and whenever there’s a new item on their list, I’m among the more vulnerable.
I was just killing time in the couch before 2PM, when work resumes in Silliman. The Caf manager, Ms Annavee, who’s a good friend since we did a project while she was still a faculty at the ND Department, asked if I have tried their burger. I may have tasted it before but I couldn’t really remember how it felt to the palate, so I said “I don’t think I have”. Maybe it was a benign lie so I could get a free burger. She asked if I wanted to buy. I jokingly hinted at a free taste. A few minutes later, her staff was already headed towards the office, bringing a burger for me.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not blogging about this burger as a form of payment. And no, I can confirm that no gun is pointed at either my temple or bulging tummy as I write this blog. It’s voluntary, especially after I have given it a bite before the rest was taken away unabashedly by an officemate who may not have been fed lunch by his mother.
On the outside, the burger looks so unassuming. It may not be one that automatically catches your attention but it boasts of the needed flair — the right mix of vegetables, the generous slice of cheese, a good complement of mayo-ketchup and a regular piece of pork (not beef) patty. The cabbage was strategically arranged that it mimics a hand gesture inviting you over. The burger bun, sliced into two, opens up just about enough to let anyone see what’s between it: the patty resting on a sliced leaf of lettuce with excited thick slices of tomatoes and cucumber piggybacking on it. Looking closer into it (which you rarely do when all you want is to eat it), you see a Disneyland of all these main ingredients glued together with a moderate dollop of mayo-ketcup.
The burger would have been better if the bun was warm and the surface had a crisp feel to the touch. But even if it wasn’t warm, the burger had a nice soft texture that when you pull it apart, you’d feel it stretching first before breaking apart — what to me is perfect for any bread.
That aside, the taste of the burger made up for what the bun could have been. The crunch of the cucumber rendered a refreshing feel to the flavors of the well-seasoned patty, which, while cooked well-done, managed to stay moist and tender; the tomatoes infused a slight tangy taste that rounded up the sweet-sour taste of the mayo-ketchup and thrust it into the balancing hint of freshness of the cucumber. As if this isn’t enough seduction, the bun is freshly made by the Caf, assuring of you quality — as with their world-famous cheese bread.
It may still take some time before Sillimanians can remember the Caf for their burger. But as they say, Rome wasn’t built over night. With the right marketing and a wise capitalization on the captive market, this burger would come to be among the favorites of students. And at P35 only, you can’t really ask for more. With that amount, one surely would hardly come by a good homemade burger nowadays.
I’d suggest you go grab a bite of this burger and share with me your thoughts. Again, as I said in the first part of this blog, before eating this burger, wipe off those high expectations born of high social stratum. It may not be gourmet, but it’s one damn filling burger.