Monday, January 18, 2010

My kingdom for a hot dog....

Where I grew up all the little beer-bars--liquor couldn't be sold by the drink in WV back then--and all the Drive ins and some little hole-in-the wall places all could make a hot dog to die for....By a hot dog to die for, I mean something that, in my experience, does not exist in CT. (Once I describe it, if you know where to find one, please let me know.)

All the hot dogs around here are long and skinny. The hot dog I'm talking about is short and plump and pink. It is made of an equal proportions of pork, nitrates and some red coloring dye to make it so very pink. It is something you would never consider grilling since it would explode and shower you with lard and other noxious things that are better eaten than worn. This is a hot dog you only steam or boil. When you bite into such a hot dog, hot grease explodes into your mouth and you can feel your arteries closing.

But that's not all. These hot dogs ALWAYS have chili on them--no beans in that--just some combination of diced and fried onions, ground beef, chili powder and most like ketchup instead of tomato paste. And it is on a 'real' hot dog bun, not one of these sissy buns with the crust cut off the side. I mean a bun that is brown all outside, not a fru-fru thing that should be a lobster roll.
And the bun has been steamed as well so it is already a little wet and mushy before the other stuff goes on.

The other stuff is, as I have already established, chili, and either yellow mustard and onions or, and preferably, slaw. (Now I have learned to to ask for 'slaw' in CT you have to use the modifier 'cole' or someone just stares at you like your some hick from WV. Where I come from we don't waste an extra word like that. Besides, what other kind of 'slaw' is there? That's it. one way or the other. Just like 'regular coffee' in CT might come with milk and sugar--though there is nothing 'regular' about that--a hot dog will come with chili (did I mention that? no need to order a 'chili dog' where I come from, saving another word for later use) and either slaw OR mustard and onions. If you say, "a dog with slaw' you'll get chili and slaw. If you say 'regular dog' you'll get mustard and onions with the chili and heart stopping wiener.

And you need to order more than one because they are so good you can't stop at one. When my children were little and we were visiting grandparents in southern WV, we would always drive to Lynn's drive-in in Bluewell for a bunch of hotdogs. The soppy bun soaks up all the tastes and is a treat in itself. I pray, if there's a God, that there is still a Lynn's in Bluewell.

When I first moved to Cheshire, everyone told me I had to get a hotdog from Blackie's. So I went and ordered two with 'chili and slaw'. Of course, they had neither but did have some brown mustard (ye gods! brown mustard on a hot dog!) and this very famous confection of over cooked peppers and onions that everyone swore was delightful. Plus the dog was long and skinny--stuck out of the bun unstead of nestling comfortably in it so it takes two bites to get to (the first bite should be soggy bread, chili and slaw). It seemed to me they had somehow deep-fried the thing, which, I suspect had no pork in it, and then threw it on the grill until it was turned black in several places. I left mine half eaten at the counter and never went back.

You just can't find a hot dog around here....

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some ponderings by an aging white man who is an Episcopal priest in Connecticut. Now retired but still working and still wondering what it all means...all of it.