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The SOAS Spirit | April 2013

Lifestyle

Features

Onedishcloser@SOAS: True blue burgers Victoria Brown, MA Anthropology of Food First of all, let’s get something straight. I’m talking about beef burgers. In my books, a burger is beef unless prefixed with the words ‘chicken’, ‘veggie’, ‘lamb’ or ‘ham’. I draw the line here. No ‘duck burgers’ thank you. A good burger should be big and sloppy and dribble down your arms – I like mine drowning in Tommy K and mayonnaise. It should require a lot of napkins, a lot more than you ever get given. It should be impossible to put down once picked up since you’ll never be able to pick it up again in one

piece. A good burger should NEVER be eaten on a first date. I grew up in a land down under where a ‘true blue’ burger passes the test: it’s cow or nothing and comes with lettuce, tomato, onion (fried, not raw) and tinned beetroot. Yes, beetroot. Some add egg, bacon and pineapple and call it The Works, but it doesn't “work” because you can’t even pick it up in the first place. For a long time I was very disappointed with burgers in London. I know beets are un-

likely, but most of the time you’re lucky to get a slice of tomato. I do love burgers though so I have persevered. Gourmet burger chains are increasingly popular. They mostly serve American-style burgers and I have come to appreciate their simplicity. So long as they are made with good quality meat and come with gherkins (a good substitute for tinned beetroot) then I’m happy. HIT Until recently I always walked straight past the Woodwards Farm burger stall at Bloomsbury Farmers’ Market wondering why on earth so many people would queue for a simple cheeseburger (£4). Now I know. They may only offer a few garnishes – lettuce, gherkins and sauces – but that, amazingly, is all they need. Their beef is so tender and delicious I could eat it alone. Of course, I still prefer it in a bun slathered with loads of ketchup, mayo, relish and mustard. And don’t forget the gherkins; sweet, sour, tangy and crunchy. What was that purple

A good burger should be big and sloppy and dribble down your arms... thing I used to like so much? Hmm… I forget. There are plenty of good chains around SOAS. My favourite for a long time was Gourmet Burger Kitchen. They are a New Zealand company so they have beetroot. This is clearly a winner in my books, but not enough to beat the juicy succulence of a Byron burger. A Byron cheeseburger (£7.75) comes with everything else – lettuce, tomato, onion and a giant pickle. I wish they’d put the pickle in the burger, instead of as an accessory on the side, but otherwise I’ve no complaints. Further afield is MEATliquor. They do dirty, greasy American diner-style burgers (£6.50) – yeah that’s a good thing – and their sides are something else. Before I went to MEATliquor I could take or leave onion rings; theirs converted me. Even better are the deep-fried pickles with blue cheese sauce. Yes, really.

MISS You are probably expecting me to start ranting about the likes of McDonalds and Burger King here. Well, I have to admit that I actually quite like them. They do not belong in a post on quality beef burgers, but nor can I pretend to be moral and righteous. Call it a guilty pleasure. I am amazed that I have come this far. I haven’t had a single burger near Bloomsbury which I would call a MISS. It just goes to show that if you drown anything in enough sauce, even the most devout Aussie burger basher can be silenced. Or satisfied at least.♦

Victoria’s blog is: www.onedishcloser.com Woodwards Farm: Bloomsbury Farmers’ Market (Thursdays), Torrington Square, WC1E 7HY; www.woodwardsfarm.com Gourmet Burger Kitchen: 44/46 The Brunswick Centre, WC1N 1AE; www.gbk.co.uk Byron: 6 Rathbone Place,W1T 1HL; www.byronhamburgers.com MEATliquor: 74 Welbeck St, W1G 0BA; www.meatliquor.com

The Sunday assembly: a Godless congregation

We heard rumours of an Atheist church congregation meeting every week, so the SOAS Spirit went to investigate. Aerie Rahman, MA Social Anthropology The common misconception about the Sunday Assembly is that it is an atheist church. While this might be appealing to some, like the militant atheist Richard Dawkins, some fear that this would lead to some form of anti-religious organisation. However, the only “churchy” thing about it is the fact that this assembly happens inside a building that looks like a church but actually isn’t. The Sunday Assembly is essentially a secular mass. It’s on a Sunday morning to begin with. It’s hosted by Jesus lookalike Sanderson Jones, who is bound to fill your Sunday morning with laughter through witticisms and religious puns. Taking a leaf from Alain De Botton’s Religion for Atheists, Sanderson believes that being an atheist doesn’t necessarily mean relinquishing positive religious rituals, such as bringing peo-

ple together. “An analogy is that of a pebble in a shoe. You take the pebble out but you don’t throw away the shoe,” said Sanderson to an attentive crowd. This month’s theme was Easter for atheists. The gathering kicked off with everybody singing Journey’s Don’t Stop Believing to energise spirits. The next act was a short reading of Rebecca Allison’s poem, Myth. Every month, the Sunday Assembly invites a star guest to present the “reading”. This month Sarah Dunant gave a wonderful secular sermon by using religious myths to address the topics of sex, death, spring and chocolate. Since myths leave room for wide interpretations, even atheists can draw a moral lesson from the Easter myths. In keeping consistent with Easter, Run Rabbit Run was sung with a little snickering from the audience. Since the Sunday Assembly is expanding throughout the UK (and even to Aus-

Sunday ‘mass’ at the non-religious establishment Image: Aerie Rahman

tralia), a member from the Exeter branch gave a little food for thought for the afterwards reflection. Next was a minute of silence and subsequently the collection, where people say hello to the person next to them, while donations are collected.

The address was given by a member of the assembly who chose to talk about the importance of morality and tradition. The congregation ended with a final song and the crowd dispersed for tea. Although the structure of the assembly is modelled after mass, the content is stimulating and informative. The assembly is not a platform to insult religion (though a few cracks are taken) or even debate about it. It’s just a place where people can congregate with fellow human beings and partake in activities that reaffirm the fact that a godless world doesn’t mean a meaningless world.♦ The Sunday Assembly is held on the first Sunday of every month. There are two sessions, at 11am and 1.30pm. It’s held at The Nave, St. Paul’s Road N1 2QH.

The SOAS Spirit issue 3  

The SOAS Spirit is the official monthly student union newspaper of the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London....

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