The World Is Your Burger: A Cultural History by David Michaels – Review

the world is your burger book review logo

By @Steve Crabtree

If, like me, your eyes keep getting drawn to the burger section of the menu when you go out for a meal; then The World Is Your Burger is maybe the only food book you’ll ever need in your life.

Produced in hardback, it’s a 450+ page bible of everything burger. Its origins and humble beginnings, to its global dominance of the fast food world. David Michaels has put together an encyclopaedic masterpiece of mouthwatering mayhem. You drool with each and every turn of the page.

He’s a burger obsessive, and he tells you a little bit about how and why his interest in burgers began when he was just a kid. He’s been researching the burger for the last ten years or so, and his portfolio of photos, essays, menus and recipes is a collection of genius foodie nostalgia.

the world is your burger book review


The World is Your Burger is divided up in to five sections. Origins, The Modern Burger, Recipes, Eating the Burger and Cultural Impact. And in true burger style, there’s a few sides that come with them along the way.

Michaels brilliantly highlights the important milestones of the burger over time. You learn that there were many big players in the patty world before those golden arches were ever established. The Modern Burger section hones in on those gourmet style burgers that seem to get bigger, juicier and more popular by the week. You see that producing such a dish is now something of an art form.

My favourite part of The World Is Your Burger is it’s a perfect ‘coffee table’ read. You can pick it up for five minutes, flick the pages and land on something you become totally engrossed in. The throwback images to the burger hitting 80s Britain is particularly rivetting. A snap of Thatcher in McDonald’s is akin to the image of Barrack Obama chomping on a Five Guys.


By taking a trip through this book, you see that the standard hamburger pattie, its lettuce and its bun has been open to interpretation over time and across continents. It’s an interesting story about burger evolution.

Then the recipes hit you. And when you’re salivating after seeing the delectable, high quality burger images throughout the book, can you resist having a go at making one? Angie Mar and Daniel Boulud share some of their secrets to making a masterpiece, before the Cultural Impact chapter opens your eyes and mind to the artwork, media, advertising and celebrity endorsement of the all-American food over time.

In all, an amazing book. It’s perfect for the burgerphile, and not out of place for those in to modern popular history. Who knew that a simple patty could come with it’s own rich history.

‘The World Is Your Burger: A Cultural History’ by David Michaels is published by Phaidon, £24.99 hardback


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