I’m convinced George Motz’s cross country quest to find the best burgers in America in his book/documentary Hamburger America makes him quite possibly one of the greatest human beings ever to eventually get a stern lecture from a physician.

In the film, all the focused-upon restaurants have been in business for a minimum of forty years.  You’ll find consistencies across that resonate with even the most ardent of sprout munchers.  The burger is obviously the star, but the supporting actors steal the show for me, i.e. the 50s-era neon signs, polished chrome stools, and the American Gothic-esque couples standing proudly in front of their mom and pop lunch counters where the size is “one” and the portion is whatever granny pats out.

These are truly the heartiest scrub-tree rugged organizations in their ability to eke out a living and a superior product in the flattened American fast food landscape.

You’ll see the regionally familiar Billy Goat Tavern (Chicago) and Hamburger Inn #2 (Iowa City) and wonder if there will ever come an occasion to visit places like Stella’s Hamburgers in Bellevue, Nebraska.

It’s a brutal book to skim at 11:30am.

bobby-flayHungry for a good old-fashioned American meal? It’s hard to beat the classic triumvirate of hamburger, French fries and a milkshake. Bobby Flay’s Burgers, Fries and Shakes shows how to take these favorites and kick them up a notch.

Flay starts with advice on finding and using the best ingredients and preferred cooking methods. Next he shows you variations on the classics – Greek burgers with feta cheese and Greek yogurt, fries made with sweet potatoes and condiments ranging from chipotle ketchup to red chili mustard. Milkshakes get special attention too – what about blackberry cheesecake or or peanut butter-banana-marshmallow? Intrigued yet?

You’ll find all of this and more, beautifully illustrated and clearly described – plenty of inspiration for creating your own version of an American classic.