The American Cheeseburger
Iconic in nature, the cheeseburger has always come standardized with American cheese. Go into a diner or a greasy spoon and you'll see the burger on the menu with the words "add cheese," which defaultly means of the american variety.
I enjoy a cheeseburger with american cheese, but sometimes I have to wonder if it really is the best compliment to a burger. What's wrong with a mild cheddar? Not something overpowering where the cheese overtakes the burger. Something light or flavorful, or something that will add zip like jack. American can have the tendency to vanish into taste non-existance, and in the end it only feels like a fatty binder and nothing else. Am I wrong to actually want to taste the cheese as well?
Sometimes I wonder if burgers I've eaten in the past would have tasted better if I just went a little anti-american and ordered cheddar.
Here in SoCal it's not unusual to see a wide variety of cheeses offered on a burger menu, pepper jack and Swiss being two of the most common. The default cheese on the trendy "bar burgers", generally running $10-$15 fully dressed (and with fries) is in fact cheddar. And about forty years ago, at a roadside joint in Oregon, our handmade cheeseburgers came with a good slab of Tillamook. Future events proved that I should have taken serious note of the fact that my companion, my first wife, declared the thing inedible because it was "the wrong kind of cheese"!
To me the most important thing is the melt factor of the cheese. I want the cheese to literally melt into every nook and cranny of the burger. If I pick the bun up, and the cheese clings to the bun, that is not a good sign. So no matter what kind of cheese it is just make sure it is melted well. And I love all kinds of cheese. Sometimes I will have more than one kind on my burger.
I HATE American cheese food product; it tastes like rubber to me. I'd rather have a plain burger. But I'm not traditional, as I don't like ketchup either.
When I'm out for a burger, the places--diners included--generally have multiple cheese offerings: cheddar, swiss, blue, jack, feta, as well as American (some of the places have even offered Velveeta and Cheese Whiz).
If I have a choice, I always order something other than american cheese. Swiss or cheddar if I'm having a bacon cheeseburger. Love blue cheese if the burger is blackened. At home I might use pepper jack, gouda, etc. If I'm at a restaurant that has "gourmet" burgers, I'll try whatever combo the chef recommends. I love cheeseburgers.