I've often had the conversation where I'm asked what one food would I refuse to go without. I don't even have to think about that. Hot Dog. Plain and simple, I want hot dogs. When I was 5 years old I was very ill and in the hospital. I wouldn't eat anything so my mother, I'll never forget this, would smuggle in one of those red and black plaid thermos containers with a hot dog inside. It was like I was being given the best gift in the world.
Though I'll eat hot dogs in most any way, I'm from the New England area, so I have a great affinity for hot dogs prepared like they were when I was living there. Top-split New England style bun, buttered on each side, then grilled.
The hot dog (with casing) was either split then grilled or deep-fried until the casing began to rip. Condiments placed on top had to be MROK (mustard, relish, onion, and kraut) plus crumbled bacon. My head is spinning just thinking about how good this was.
There is a really great documentary called A Hot Dog Program that shows off the various preparations of this comfort food staple around the country. A couple of years ago I went to the Jersey Shore for the Fourth of July and made a side trip to Rutt's Hut in Clifton, home of the "Ripper" that is shown in this program. The hot dogs chosen: The Ripper and the Cremator. Got to say, the Ripper was fantastic but the Cremator was like eating styrofoam. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the excursion.
And just to prove how much I love hot dogs:
Several years back (okay, about 20) I was at a flea market. I saw a binder of old, thin cookbooks. It was a series that somebody had collected over time. They dated from the late 1950s and were published by Good Housekeeping. I was delighted when in the middle of the series there was one issue called "Good Housekeeping's Hamburger & Hot Dog Book."
I made my offer (no price, based on my desire for that one issue, would have been too much) and it was mine! I got home and looked over the recipes and found myself experiencing a large range of emotions. Some recipes were looked appetizing, some were just plain nasty sounding, and others had me laughing at the sheer ridiculous idea that somebody would actually concoct what I was reading about. Take for example "Frank Delight" that uses hot dogs with eggplant or my favorite, "Frank Suey," Stuffed Franks, or Barbecued Frank Kabobs.
I've gone on to cook many of the recipes and can say that some were excellent and others, like the Frank Suey one were not. But, it didn't matter - because it had hotdogs.
Originally posted on Comfort Food Party, August, 2004
I'm April Bailey, a freelance writer and editor for hire who has been writing about various topics for many years. Most of my early print work was destroyed in a major house fire. Luckily, I was able to pull some copies from an old PC and have posted them here. Other items on this blog reflect my current articles and blog posts written for online publications and copied here so I never lose my work again!