I fell asleep last night thinking about wimples. This doesn't happen often.
A wimple, for those of you raised in some heathen tradition, is the starched, white linen gadget that nuns used to wear around their head and face, like a Catholic ḥijāb. Sally Field wore one in The Flying Nun. Yes, before there was that Academy Award thing and even before Burt Reynolds - but after Gidget, of course - there was Sister Bertrille. Okay, okay - I watched it some. There was a period in my young life when I was still confused about some things. More confused than now, I mean.
Anyway, Sally Fields wore this funky wimple - "funky" was a legitimate word back then - with a couple of giant gull-wing appendages that magically imbued the hot little nun with the gift of flight. Nobody ever really got the point of all this, but Sally was still Gidget back then, and you could get away with a lot if you were Gidget. At least with guys you could, despite the fact that the wimple and the rest of the white habit rendered Sally effectively sexless. Unless you had a hinky little wimple thing going.
So I watched. Television and sex were simpler in the 70s. Or the 60's. But who's counting?
Enter the James Beard Society. If James Beard was the Pope of Food, then his Society, even today, is the College of Culinary Cardinals. They might have been the Bishopric of Bon Appetit, but given the state of contemporary priestly society, "Bishopric" carves a bit too close to the bone.
Recently, the JBS decided to name five "Classic American Restaurants." It's what the JBS does - name things. It canonized Shady Glen, from my hometown of Manchester, Connecticut.
Shady Glen's glory is its "classic" cheeseburger. The Glen's original owner, long before Burt Reynolds and even before Gidget, discovered that if you drape three big pieces of cheese over a hamburger while it's grilling, the overhanging cheese crisps up like some God-blessed cheesy potato chip. As the cheese begins to crackle, the grill man lifts and sculpts it into a soaring, swooping set of wings: a cheeseburger wimple to make Sally Field jealous.
I have worshiped Shady Glen's cheeseburgers since long before I discovered Gidget. Girls, after all, come and go. (Okay, most of them come and go; my wife reads these things.) But a wimpled Shady Glen burger was, is, and I hope always will be paradise on a bun. The James Beard Society got it right.