Thursday, July 4, 2013


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 backyard parties. Possibly your menu will be featuring 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 have heard there are lips possibly in them... but what else? What stray parts or otherwise unsellable organ meats might be ground within the 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 is 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 is 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. 

When one fires up to cook Hot Dogs at home I feel compelled to offer one basic rule or maybe two. 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. 


I’m Norman Van Aken and that’s…. My Word on Food ©.
Copyright © by Norman Van Aken, 2013

Note: I have a weekly radio program on WLRN-PBS and WLRN.ORG 91.3 and 91.5 FM. This is my script copy of a recent show. But they are also meant to be LISTENED to so jump on to WLRN.ORG and search for me or for "A Word On Food".