Thursday, February 24, 2005

I Heart Hotdogs

This is no veiled sexual innuendo. I love hotdogs. I love wieners. I love frankfurters. I could stuff them in my mouth all day long, if it wasn’t for the calories and nitrates. Yum!

You can cook a hotdog many ways. My mother steamed them. Mike (and his mom) boils them. In a pinch, I’ve microwaved them (not recommended). The best way to cook a hotdog is on roller grill, the sort you see at gas stations and ball parks. Blackening a wiener on a BBQ is a close second.

While in college, I worked at the concession stand of the movie theater at Bellis Fair Mall. Our concession stand was a little spartan. We had no nachos, pizza by the slice, or even coffee. We did have hotdogs, cooked to perfection on a roller grill. Customers rarely ordered a hotdog, so we usually had a few extra at the end of the night. These dogs had been cooking all day, 10 hours or so. I can still hear the sound of the grill, rolling up and down, and see the hotdogs glistening in their own grease. The skin was delightfully tough and rubbery, while the middle was hot and juicy. Because we usually cleaned the roller grill with Sprite, the dogs were enhanced by a sugary, lemon-lime film. Enjoying a purloined wiener in the back room was pure ecstasy. It wasn’t really stealing. The hotdogs had to be disposed of at the end of the night. As lovely as they tasted after cooking one full day, I doubt a second day on the grill would improve them much. Ah…I believe my love affair with hotdogs began there, among the boxes of soda syrup in the back room.

I’ll eat any sort of hotdog, but the standard Ballpark frank is probably the best. I enjoy Oscar Meyer’s Cheesedogs. I eat Healthy Choice franks, or even vegetarian dogs, when I’m feeling health conscious. Mike prefers dogs that I would call sausages, the spicier the better. I suppose I prefer a plain hotdog because it is the perfect vehicle for the toppings.

You will never find ketchup on my hotdog. I’ve detested ketchup from the moment I learned that the ingredients include tomatoes, vinegar, and sugar. How could those things taste good together? At a standard hotdog bar, I top my wiener with mustard and sweet relish. One packet of each, squirted in the two gaps between the bun and the frank. I love the bite of the mustard and the sweetness of the relish contrasted with the meaty goodness of the dog. At home, I get a little more creative with toppings. My absolute favorite hotdog accessory is beet horseradish. It’s kicky and zingy, but a little bit sweet. In fact, I’ve been known to discard the hotdog and eat the horseradish straight out of the jar….but that’s the subject for another post.

I’m often ashamed to buy hotdogs at the grocery store. Like Top Ramen, frankfurters are one of those foods you’re supposed to outgrow. While I sometimes buy a package of wieners at Bigg’s, I prefer my hotdogs from the most filthy of places, the gas station convenience store. The dogs are perfect. They are plain. They are cooked on a roller grill for hours and hours. There are always packages of mustard and relish. The buns are hot and steamy. A gas station hot dog is my little treat for finally filling up the car. In fact, when I imagine myself eating the perfect dog, I can smell the background odor of gasoline fumes. I just can’t replicate the gas station hotdog at home.

It’s unlikely that I’ll be getting a roller grill anytime soon, but with summer coming, I’ll eat my fill of hotdogs. I’ll be eating wieners at the Red’s games and BBQs. Summer is the season of road trips and convenience store snacks. I love summer, and I love hotdogs even more! Anyone need gas?


At 1:54 PM, Blogger Brian Rak said...

Hey Mira,

Just had to say I enjoyed reading about your ethusiasm for hot dogs. The association of hot dogs with gasoline fumes in an olfactoral image I shall not soon forget. Mmm mmm good.


At 10:38 AM, Blogger Why Just Survive? said...

I love hotdogs too, and I also carry a little bit of shame about it. :-)


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