There was a time, a time not long ago, when food was just food.
Your burger was simply a beef patty bookended by a squishy white bun, with a smear of ketchup or mustard. And your French fries were humble sticks of potato in a pile on your plate.
But then things changed. Your burger arrived on a brioche roll with your choice of Muenster, Roquefort, or Gruyère, melted over a patty fashioned from the finest beef. And your fries were brushed with truffle oil and dusted with pimentón. Comfort food became art. It became cuisine.
The gourmet-ing of humble fare stems from the desire to balance the familiar with the fancy, the innovative with the classic. Its result: many memorable successes. The pairing of macaroni, cheese, and lobster elevated a childhood classic to new heights. Shrimp and pesto transformed the traditional red-sauce pizza. Earl-Gray-infused vodka breathed new life into the martini.
And then there's the Wagyu burger. Originally a celebrated Japanese breed of cattle, Wagyu is arguably the finest steak on earth and gives the simple burger complex flavors, subtle sweetness, and a tenderness that only something referred to as "butter knife beef" can.
Not to mention a premium quality that begs a stellar wine pairing: The plush tannins of Silver Oak Alexander Valley Cabernet, perhaps, or the exotic complexity of Belle Glos "Las Alturas" Pinot Noir.
Eventually, the best of these reimagined dishes become culinary classics in their own right--challenging a new generation of chefs to dream up their own delicious interpretations.