Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC, in VOA Special English.
I'm Doug Johnson. On our show this week:
We answer a question about an American television show …
Play some music from a new album by Norah Jones …
And report about an extremely popular American food.
Americans love to eat hamburgers -- chopped or ground beef served on bread. Many restaurants in the United States say hamburgers are their most popular food. But no one really seems to know who made the first one. Barbara Klein has more.
History expert Linda Stradley published a hamburger history on the Web site What's Cooking America. She says sailors who visited the German port city of Hamburg in the eighteen hundreds learned to enjoy ground meat known as Hamburg steak. And German settlers in the United States served ground beef and called it hamburg steak after the German city.
But she says the invention of the modern American hamburger is in dispute. She says one problem is the definition. Is it a hamburger when the meat is placed between two pieces of bread? Or must it be in a kind of bread called a bun? Either way, she tells about a number of people who claim to have served the first hamburger in America. Here are some of them.
The people of Seymour, Wisconsin, say fifteen-year-old Charlie Nagreen sold the first hamburgers in eighteen eighty-five at a local fair. The town holds a yearly hamburger festival to honor him.
People in Akron, Ohio, agree that the hamburger was invented in eighteen eighty-five. But they say the inventors were Frank and Charles Menches. They say the brothers put the meat between two pieces of bread at a traveling fair.
Other claims include the family of Louis Lassen. They are still making hamburgers in New Haven, Connecticut. And people in Athens, Texas, say Fletch Davis, who owned a restaurant, sold the first hamburger.
The modern hamburger became popular after it was served at the Saint Louis World's Fair in nineteen-oh-four. But the Bilby family in the state of Oklahoma says their grandfather Oscar served the first hamburger thirteen years before that. They claim he was the first to put the meat in a bun.
Because of this claim, the governor of Oklahoma declared the city of Tulsa to be the birthplace of the hamburger. But the Library of Congress has honored Louis Lassen as the inventor of the hamburger.
As recently as last month, language expert Barry Popik wrote about the issue. He says that states should drop claims to be the home of the hamburger because no one really knows who served the first one.
Our listener question this week comes from Osaka, Japan. Fumio Nishimoto says the television show "24" is popular in Japan and wants to know more about it.
"24" is also still very popular in the United States. The show is now in its sixth year on the Fox Television network. Some critics think more Americans will watch the show this season than ever before.
"24" stars Kiefer Sutherland (pictured) as Jack Bauer, an anti-terrorism agent of the United States government. Jack Bauer has fought nuclear threats, suicide bombers and kidnappers who have seized people he loves.
His work has resulted in the death of his wife and the end of his relationship with his daughter. It also places him in danger and in severe pain.
"24" is what is called a concept show. It uses one interesting artistic device. Each episode covers one hour in Jack Bauer's life. And the episodes are all connected. So a full season of "24" completes one twenty-four hour day.
Early on, some critics thought the twenty-four hour idea would get tiresome. But, the show continues to be popular among critics and viewers.
"24" deals with current issues and often disputed ones as well. For example, the use of torture as a method for gaining information is a major subject on the show. Other subjects are religious freedom and constitutional rights in the United States. And almost every episode includes some kind of disloyalty or violating a trust.
Imagine Television, Real Time Productions and Fox Television jointly produce "24." The show has received many honors, including an Emmy award last year for Outstanding Drama Series. Keifer Sutherland also received a two thousand six Emmy for outstanding lead actor in a drama series. He had been nominated every year since the show began.
Here is a tense moment from "24":
ANNOUNCER: "The following takes place between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m."
MILO PRESSMAN: "[Phone rings.] Pressman."
JACK BAUER: "They've dumped the car. They must have switched vehicles."
MILO PRESSMAN: "From the underpass they could've merged directly onto any one of six local roads or highways. There's just no way of tracking them without knowing exactly which vehicle they're in."
JACK BAUER: "Damn it, Milo. They could be anywhere. Just find them and get back to me."
Norah Jones' New Album
Jazz and pop singer Norah Jones is the top-selling female artist of the twenty-first century. She has sold more than thirty million records around the world. Now the twenty-seven-year-old singer has released her third album, called "Not Too Late." Faith Lapidus tells us about it.
Norah Jones has a voice and singing style that is all her own. It is warm and emotional. Her first two albums were extremely popular. "Come Away With Me" was released in two thousand two. It sold ten million copies in the United States alone. Her second album, "Feels Like Home," was released two years later. Both albums include beautiful songs about love and relationships. Jones or members of her band wrote a few of the songs.
Norah Jones' third album, "Not Too Late," is different from her first two. She wrote or co-wrote all the songs on the album. The songs are sadder and more serious. This one is called "Thinking About You." It is about ending a relationship.
"Not Too Late" is also different from Jones' first two albums because it includes songs that make political statements. This song expresses her unhappiness with the results of the presidential election of two thousand four. It is called "My Dear Country."
Norah Jones plays piano and guitar on her latest album. She recorded the songs for the album in a studio in her home in New York City. We leave you now with a song from "Not Too Late" that sounds like the music of New Orleans. It is called "Sinkin' Soon."
I'm Doug Johnson. I hope you enjoyed our program today.
It was written by Shelley Gollust, Nancy Steinbach and Caty Weaver, who also was our producer. To read the text of this program and download audio, go to our Web site, voaspecialenglish.com.
And do join us again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC, VOA's radio magazine in Special English.