Saturday, January 22, 2011

American Food

What can be more American than the hot dog?

But how do we define the very best sausage in a bun? I think that the only thing we can agree on is that it must be HOT. Though a cold frank can be consumed, it just doesn't qualify as a hot dog.

There are different grades of hot dogs on the market. Some boast their contents (all beef, all turkey, etc.) and others advertise length, girth or that they plump up when you cook them. Some even have cheese embedded inside and it goos out when they get warm. I think that he cheese stuffed inside is taking a good thing to an extreme.

Hebrew National hot dogs claim to come from a "higher source" and offer a kosher twist on the national favorite. Ballpark Franks assert that their brand is the one sold at baseball games nationwide - a suspicious claim at best. Hoffy boasts that their hot dogs are the very best. Pink's claims a hot dog legacy to 1939. I've had a Pink's dog and it tastes like any other hot dog. Since I had to stand in a line next to rush hour traffic at Melrose and La Brea (in Los Angeles) for the privilege of buying one, the gasoline fumes may have tainted the experience.

There is something wrong about waiting in line for a hot dog on a bun.

I personally think that the best hot dogs come from Chicago. I've eaten them in ball parks, on dirty Los Angeles street corners, and from street carts in New York City. None of them taste as good as the hot links you buy in Chicago.

The Chicago dog comes smeared with yellow mustard, chopped onions, tomatoes and a pickle spear loaded onto a fresh, hot, squishy bun topped with poppy seeds. What's not to love about that? Ok, the meat is a little more difficult to taste with all that on the dog, but who cares?

The closest I've come to a genuine Chicago hot dog in Southern California is Portillos (Buena Park and Moreno Valley). Dick Portillo started a small hot dog stand in Chicago and it went viral - for a reason.

One of my favorite places to eat a hot dog is when I'm camping. There is something very special (though nowhere near sacred) about charring a Hebrew National hot dog over a mesquite fire, dropping it into a bun, running a line of mustard along the top and taking a big bite.


Coffeypot said...

Hotdogs are ONLY second to hamburgers. And a line of mustard is just the first layer of condiments. The more the merrier. And I have eaten hotdogs off street venders in NY and was surprised at how good they were. Now I gotta go out and get a couple.

Opus #6 said...

Costco dogs are a good value, and hebrew national, I'm told.

WoFat said...

The hot dogs sold from carts in the New Orleans French Quarter are POISON. Only drunks can consume them. They have been very popular fro years.

LL said...

The Costco dog is the budget champion of all hot dogs and I have to agree with Opus. ---but they're not the Rolls Royce.

WoFat, I thought that New Orleans hot dogs would have some sort of creole twist to them that would make them delicious like other New Orleans food.

John C, there is no doubt that a red hot from a street vendor in NY is a classic (and the Coney Island dogs are legend) - but in my experience, they don't rise to the level of the Chicago dogs.

darlin said...

LL, hot dogs I do not comprehend. My son also loves a "good" hot dog every now and again, I thought I raised him better than that! :-)

LL said...

Darlin, you're an epicure -- a chef, and I do "get it" when you don't see the pleasure in a simple hot dog. However it's one of those universal foods that (perhaps, sadly) almost defines us. How you prepare your dog says a lot about who you are - mustard or catsup or BOTH. Do you take pickle relish or onions - even a wedge or two of tomato? And do you dare to have it all? I've even heard of people putting butter on a hot dog and that is so WRONG that I dare not go further with it.

WoFat said...

I think the N.O. hot dogs are shipped down from New Jersey.

AmandaFienPhotography said...

This was a very random post lol...I do have to say that Costco hot dogs are good but not so good when you burp up the taste of one hours later. I also like having my hot dog on a sesame seed bun. BUT I do have to say that I LOVE corn dogs more than hot dogs.

LL said...

Amanda - There is no doubt that a corn dog, done right, is unbeatable. FINDING a place that does them right is more difficult than one would think.

WoFat - NEW JERSEY? That sounds wrong. Very wrong.

Race Bannon said...

Ted's Hot Dogs - Buffalo, NY.

Oh, and Tempe, AZ - McClintock and Broadway if you're ever there. Long line at lunch time...bunch of lost New Yorkers.

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