Sunday, November 22, 2009

God I am hungry! The Chicago Hot dog

A Chicago style hot dog is like a piece of great art. It is tasty and delicious. It follows a great plan, starting with small little steps, and progressing in steps to build the final product: A hot dog that is second to none. Perhaps a Chicago style hot dog is more like a great architect drawing and constructing a building. Although it was never mentioned in Devil and the White City, I am sure that as a true Chicagoan, Burnham himself enjoyed a hot dog or two from time to time in between lavish French meals. After all, like so many other great things, the Chicago style hot dog originated at the World’s Fair.
Author’s note: I can’t back that Burnham thing up. He may have only liked to eat large difficult to pronounce French meals. But since he was a Chicagoan, and the fair was his baby, then the Chicago style hot dog could rightfully be called Burnham’s grandchild. Since Burnham was a family man, it stands to reason that he would have been interested in his grandchildren.
A Chicago style hot dog begins with a great bun. This is the foundation in our building analogy. The bun sets the tone for the rest of the hot dog, and only one type of bun will do in a Chicago style hot dog. The type of bun we are looking for in this case is a good all American white bread bun covered in delicious poppy seeds. Not too many poppy seeds, not enough to make you fail a drug test, but enough to flavor the bun while at the same time making it just messy enough with black seeds falling off in every bite.
The second addition to our hot dog building is the hot dog itself. This is the equivalent of the interior of our building. Just as the interior of a building sets the tone for its functionality, so too does the type of hot dog set the tone for the entire hotdog. It may be the most critical ingredient in the overall blueprint of the hotdog. Chicago style hot dogs are all beef; we don’t allow that inferior Oscar Myer pork product to carry the name of Chicago hot dog. That said, not any all beef hotdog will do. In order to be a true Chicago hot dog, the dog must either be either a genuine Vienna Beef hot dog (made where Elston, Damen, Fullerton and the Chicago river meet on the north side)or a Kosher’s Best hot dog, the latter being the hot dog that is blessed by a rabbi, and guaranteed to contain no pork. (For information on what the hot dog does contain read, The Jungle by Upton Sinclair) This part of the hot dog is critical. Without one of these brands of hot dog, you have at best an Alberta dog. And that is Canada. Do you want to be Chicago, or Canada?
The most important part of this hot dog is that it is to be steamed until it is fully cooked. A grilled hot dog is acceptable, but only in instances in which steaming is unavailable. . Under no circumstances is the hot dog to be broiled.
Now that we have a building that has a great foundation (the poppy seed bun) and an interior that will fit our purposes (the hot dog itself) Now we need to make the building pretty. After all, in a city whose skyline features the Sears (not Willis) tower and the Hancock building, we insist on great looking architecture. This architecture is another feature that distinguishes Chicago hot dogs from others: the toppings. We start off with tomato wedges and a kosher spear pickle, cut lengthwise to fit into a bun. On top of this we pile sport peppers and raw white onion. For flavor, neon green relish is added. It is very important that the relish is neon green; if any other color is present in your hot dog, the results could be disastrous. Put the hot dog down immediately and seek out a true Chicago hot dog before disaster strikes. Top all that off with yellow mustard and a dash of celery salt, and you have yourself a Chicago style hotdog that is not only functional, but easily as beautiful as any piece of architecture. After all, buildings crumble, but a hot dog is eaten. And, if I may go out on a limb, people will still be eating hot dogs long after the great buildings of the Earth are nothing but rubble, because, well, people have to eat.
AUTHORS NOTE: Under no circumstances should you put ketchup on a Chicago style hot dog. If you notice any person over the age of 12 and under the age of 70 doing this, it is your right, neigh, your duty as a Chicagoan to correct them, using physical violence if necessary.

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