Long live the Kaiser, and Queen Brioche

America’s pretzel-bun fetish has gone too far. It was fun at first, to have a tangy, spongy, salty roll for burgers and sandwiches. It was new and exotic and pretzels themselves are delicious with mustards and cheese sauces. But the pretzel bun is dense and has a tendency to dry out. If you dip a dry pretzel in a sauce it is still delicious. If you have a dry pretzel bun, your burger is going to be a disappointment. Further, the density takes the emphasis away from the burger or sandwich and entirely onto the bread. This is the way it should be if the bread is transcendent, but, usually, the point of a compilation of ingredients is to make them all work together.

The two old standbys, brioche and kaiser rolls, don’t have this same problem. Kaiser rolls should be flavorful, but light and airy, the perfect complement to great ingredients. Mistreated kaiser rolls (stale, for instance) are going to be disappointing, but a mediocre roll still allows the rest of the ingredients to shine. Brioche rolls are also light and fluffy, but instead of being an airy bread with a bit of a crust holding it in, they are mostly butter. Everyone loves butter.

In the broadest terms I don’t mind that pretzel buns are a thing. For one, it is unlikely that they can be undone at this point, and, for another, I am generally in favor of letting people make their own mista…choices. My problem is that, sometimes, there is no choice, the default is just a disappointing pretzel bun. A pretzel bun that should be a niche item, an optional substitution at most. Life is too short for such tomfoolery; long live the kaiser.

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