In the universe of burgers, cheeseburgers rank in a genre all their own. The inclusion of cheese upon meat, stacked between horizontally sliced halves of bread, has superseded all other toppings: you are permitted to accept or deny any form of lettuce, tomatoes, onions, pickles and condiments, but once you add cheese, your erstwhile simple disc of cow literally transforms into a different menu item.
It is the cheeseburger that mesmerized Samuel L. Jackson’s character in Pulp Fiction; that rained down from the heavens in Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, inspiring hope and elation in a townspeople beleaguered by too many sardines; that drew Matthew McConaughey, when asked by the New York Daily News in 2009 about his favourite food, to reply, “I’ll eat more cheeseburgers, man. That’s my favourite food. Man who invented the hamburger was smart; man who invented the cheeseburger was a genius.”
It was therefore with some excitement that The Canadian Jewish News found four individuals who’d never eaten a cheeseburger before – kosher-style Jews who strictly separate meat and dairy, but also don’t restrict their worldly diets to foods marked by a heksher. We bought them four plant-based, meatless burgers with cheese – cheeseburgers, for all intents and purposes – and opened their doors to the unique world of kosher cheeseburgers.
Then we decided to film it. Here are their reactions: