Norman Van Aken's A Word On Food
8:00 am
Sat June 29, 2013

Keeping The Tradition Alive: The Great American Hot Dog

Credit Norman Van Aken

You may be making plans to celebrate our day of "National Independence" from the once “Tax Mad” English by having friends and family over for a backyard party. Possibly your menu will feature one of the all-time icons of American gastronomy, "The Great American Hot Dog".

When most of us think of hot dogs I think we purposefully agree to block out what's actually packed into the dog's casing. I’ve even heard there may be lips in them... and what other stray parts or otherwise unsellable organ meats might be ground within that neat little capsule of fatty goodness? Never mind! We intentionally and forcefully disconnect the logic valve to our brain stem's regulator regarding health (ugh) and allow the id to run the show when we commence to eat Hot Dogs.

True confession. I eat 'em. Rarely. But I do. I crave them more often than I eat them. But there are times and places for that snappy, chewy, gut-lust-satisfying experience. I’d have one… and maybe two if is a National Holiday, with a “Sweaty Betty Blonde.” That’s a beer, before I get in trouble!-An unfiltered Bavarian-style Hefeweizen, just to show I’m not making this up! 

(Good beer if you can find it). 

I never eat in the fast food restaurants that clutter the globe now. And it’s not because I'm ‘too good’. It just doesn't satisfy the necessary and even rational (!) pre-qualifications I mentioned a moment ago. It doesn't make my id rev. Something warns me… if too many folks go to something… that something is probably very very wrong. It’s the same as my ‘Supermarket Best Seller List of Literature’ theory. I think I’ll have another Sweaty Betty Blonde and move on. If you’re thinking of having Hot Dogs at home, I feel compelled to offer one basic rule or maybe two. First, they must be cooked on a grill and given a nice char! Wienies bobbing in liquid are ridiculous. The fat inside that sausage needs to ooze out to the surface of the dog and sweetly caramelize in the heat of the moments. And since caramelization and said sweetness are present... Rule 2. No freaking KETCHUP! Hot Dogs are to be anointed with mustard.

They need that TANG. 

And sometimes they need even more.

There is a hot dog vendor down in a section of Miami where English is expendable who may have created the ultimate and most definitely not “AKC registered” dog.

First he puts a freshly cooked (grilled!) hot dog on a lightly toasted bun. (onion bun for me). 

Then he adds some ketchup (I forgive him for this one violation if I’m too slow to stop his flying hands) and then the tangy goodness of mustard. 

Hold on! He's just started to walk this dog. Then he adds a big dab of mayo, then fried sweet onions and pickle relish. 

Then he adds cold diced, fresh, sweet pineapple and then he puts the dog on a plate and takes some spicy-salty potato chips between his two cupped hands and rubs them back and forth over the dog, showering the now besotted canine with crunchy-fatty shards of bliss.

If it were a fireworks display I think we'd all be saying, "Awwwww" right about now. 

HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY!

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