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The Juicy Lucy is Minneapolis's most notable contribution to the world of haut cuisine. It's devilishly simple, really. While a normal cheeseburger consists of a hamburger patty with the cheese picturesquely melted atop it, the Juicy Lucy puts the cheese inside the actual hamburger patty. The burger is then cooked, causing this cheese to melt. This liquid core of cheese, besides being quite tasty, also keeps the hamburger meat moist and augments the burger's overall flavor in a way that's difficult to quantify, but evident from the first bite.

The dynamics of eating a Juicy Lucy are somewhat more complex than your average burger. The most important rule is to let the burger cool down a bit before eating it. If you bite into the burger fresh off the grill, the liquid core of cheese will still be scalding hot and will proceed to pour into your mouth and cause you an immense amount of pain. Small children will point and laugh at you as you flail wildly, regurgitate hamburger matter, and drink liberally from your beverage of choice. Don't let this happen to you! Eat a few fries first, garnish your burger with condiments -- if you're feeling bold, nibble around the edge of the burger without penetrating the core. Just be sure to give it a good five minutes or so of cooling time before you plunge ahead with that first great bite.

Much like the Philly Cheese Steak, there are two places in Minneapolis where those in the know get their Juicy Lucy fix: Matt's Bar and the 5-8 Club. Matt's is located on the corner of 35th Street and Cedar Avenue and looks pretty much like an average seedy neighborhood bar. Only a few minutes down Cedar Avenue at 58th Street, the 5-8 Club feels a bit more like a restaurant than a bar (which is a bit odd given that it was a speakeasy in the 1920s). Despite their unremarkable appearances, both make their Juicy Lucy's from scratch and, thanks to several decades of practice, do it quite well. The question of which of the two was the true birthplace of the Juicy Lucy is still a subject of local debate. I tend to give the award to Matt's simply by virtue of the fact that I grew up within walking distance of it and was exposed to their burgers from a very young age.

For those living outside the cradle of Juicy Lucy civilization, it is possible to make a fair simulacra of a Juicy Lucy from home. Grilling, as always, is the preferred manner of cooking. I've found that it works best to form a fairly large patty (around 1/2lb) and to cook it fairly thoroughly (medium-well or further) to ensure that you achieve a fully liquid cheese core. Some have argued that cutting the cheese into smaller pieces (or using shredded cheese) can also assist in this regard. Feel free to experiment with cheese types to your heart's content -- while American and Swiss are the perennial favorites, mozzerella is a personal favorite.

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