Men's Fitness has just published its list of the ten best burgers in the country. Only it's not their list—it's a Zagat-driven list. So the sub-head of the piece is totally misleading:
"We searched high and low for the country's 10 most mouthwatering burgers." That, serious eaters, is complete bull (no pun intended, partner). They confined their search to Zagat's entries.
Why do magazines publish best-of lists that include places that no one at the magazine has tried? I guess they think that people love these top ten lists so much they won't care how they're compiled.
When Raymond Sokolov published his best-burger list in the Wall Street Journal, he didn't phone or e-mail it in. He went and subjected his digestive system to an all-burger diet. When one of my favorite food writers Alan Richman wrote his 20 Burgers to Eat Before You Die story for GQ, I bet he didn't phone it in either.
To confirm Richman's methodology I inquired about it in an e-mail. His response:
Yup, me personally, every damn place on the list (and about 70 more). An insane piece to do, took me about 3 months. Thanks for asking.
Richman's a pro when it comes to this kind of story. He knows that to do it any other way is a fake, a sham, a mockery of all that serious eaters hold near and dear.
I know to properly compile these lists requires time, money, and an insane passion for burgers. But if a national magazine wants to do it they should do it right or not do it at all. If Men's Fitness wanted to do right by a top ten hamburger list they should have paid someone to fly around the country, or they should have called AHT friend George Motz, who literally wrote the book on burgers.
Is my outrage misplaced? Do tell.