This is the land of the old-fashioned hamburger. Found in small restaurants hugging railroads tracks that crisscross the counties of northeast Mississippi, northwestern Alabama and lower Tennessee.
These hamburgers defy hunger and solitude in a region where many workers worry over their next paycheck.
Made with beef, pork, or both; extended with oatmeal, soymeal grits, breadcrumbs, and flour; these burgers go by various names. Slugburger, cerealburger, or doughburger. Fillerburger, potato burger, and old-fashioned. Dub’s Burger, Weeksburger, Willie Burger, or Penn Burger.
Thin like a discus, cooked in deep oil, they emerge from their bath with a creamy interior and a brown and crispy shell. Most customers order them topped with mustard, onions, and maybe pickles. When regulars order cheese, cooks melt the American single by dousing it quickly in the oil. If you want a toasted bun, the cook swabs on more of that oil and toasts it on the flattop.