I had thought about writing about this a few weeks ago when I was reflecting on the letter F. however, since few people call hot dogs frankfurters, I chose to wait until I was working on H. I don’t know about you, but hot dogs have always been one of my favorite comfort foods. It was one of the few “meats” my mother could cook in a way, which did not taste like it was still mooing or shoe leather; it is hard to ruin a precooked meat.
Hot dogs, although originally developed in Frankfurt, Germany, are considered to as all American as baseball and apple pie. They are also considered to be a comfort food and today we have restaurants such as The Dawg House in Rochester, NY that sell nothing but the “dawg” and bloggers such as http://bombdiggitydogs.wordpress.com that write about nothing but hot dogs.
Hot dog aficionados will tell you that there are three things to consider in preparing the perfect hot dog: the dog, the bun, and the condiments. Since hot dogs are precooked, they just need to be reheated in some fashion. When I lived in New Jersey, we would go to a place called Rutt’s Hut where they deep-fried their hot dogs. However, bomdiggitydogs.com suggests that you steam them and then put them on the grill for a moment or boil them and then put them in a frying pan for a moment to give them that outer crisp. Although hot dogs are available in a variety of forms (turkey, beef, pork/beef blend), hot dog aficionados suggest 100% all beef hot dogs and those with a good snap. It is the “snap,” which releases the flavors and juices when you bite into your hot dog.
The bun is also important. This is one of those times that size does matter. Your hot dog should fit neatly into your bun. Hot dog experts suggest that your bun, like your hot dog, be steamed and then grilled slightly. This prepares the bun to be able to soak up all the juices from the hot dog when you first bite into it.
Then there is what you put on the bun. The bun is the blank canvas. It is suggested that you put the cheese, if you are going to use it, under the hot dog so that it melts the cheese and then see your hot dog as a work of art on which you can create and customize to your liking.
Hot dogs can not only be used to satisfy our hunger and creativity, but have also been used to illustrate the importance of recognizing the importance and realness of all of humanity. Anthony DeMello, a Jesuit priest and psychotherapist told this story in his book, The Heart of the Enlightened.
"A family settled down for dinner at a restaurant. The waitress first took the order of the adults, then turned to the seven-year old.
" 'What will you have?' she asked.
"The boy looked around the table timidly and said, 'I would like to have a hot dog.'
"Before the waitress could write down the order, the mother interrupted. 'No hot dogs,' she said, 'Get him a steak with mashed potatoes and carrots.'
"The waitress ignored her. 'Do you want ketchup or mustard on your hot dog?' she asked the boy.
" 'Coming up in a minute,' said the waitress as she started for the kitchen.
"There was a stunned silence when she left. Finally the boy looked at everyone present and said, 'Know what? She thinks I'm real!' "
Hot dogs can not only taste good, but they have the potential to help us reconnect to our senses of taste, touch, smell, sight, and sound. They enable us to hear the snap as we bite into them; to see the crispness of the casing and the toasting on the bun; to smell them as they crisp up in the pan; to taste the blend of flavors as we bite into the hot dog, and to feel the contrast of the softness of the bun and the crispness of the dog. Yes, hot dogs provide an opportunity for us to practice mindfulness and awareness when we allow ourselves to be present in the moment.