Picture something delicious. I wonder if you see what I do?
Picture a childhood comfort food. Something simple, it’s hot off the grill. Something synonymous with summertime and baseball games. Something that can be topped in countless ways. Something guaranteed to please almost all finicky eaters. Got it? Do you see what I see?
Hot dogs, naturally. A classic summertime food. Anytime I have a hot dog I think about pool parties, backyard barbecues, birthday parties, baseball games, and hot sunny days. Hot dogs aren’t a complicated food. They don’t demand linen napkins, or fancy table settings. They just want to be held briefly and consumed happily. That’s all they ask of you.
They don’t get a lot attention or praise in the adult realm of eating. They may be a favourite food when young, but as we grow older, our tastes evolve. We try new things. We don’t spurn the items on our plate because they look funny, or simply because we’ve never heard of them before. We can look past old prejudices of food. We become bolder and more empowered in our choices. Things like hot dogs, chicken nuggets, spaghetti-o’s, and mac ‘n’ cheese tend to stay relegated to the children’s realm of eating. You may still eat them as an adult, but perhaps you are less likely to think of them in terms of a “dining experience”. It’s usually just quick, easy consumption.
Hot dogs are readily available in the city. You can find a street vendor at just about every turn. I enjoy the occasional street meat scarf, not gonna lie. It’s usually when I’m drunk, or just need to quickly fill up the tank while out and about. I think of them as quick, nostalgic sustenance. I don’t think of them as a treat per say, or an indulgence. They’re just there. Good old, predictable hot dogs.
But sometimes you can be pleasantly surprised by something you least expect…
The weather this weekend was spectacular! Both Saturday and Sunday were wondrously sunny and warm. It was an absolute delight to be outside. I didn’t want to waste what could possibly be the last perfect weekend of the fall season, so I made sure to spend as much of my time outdoors, soaking it all in. On Saturday I spent the afternoon and evening shopping on Queen street with my friend Rebecca. It seems a lot of other people had the same idea. The streets were rammed with other giddy shoppers, just enjoying the beautiful afternoon with their fair city. It was a great way to spend the day, catching up with a beloved friend while exploring the city.
On Sunday D and I knew we had to get out. I hadn’t seen him at all on Saturday, so a long walk through the city was the perfect way to spend the day. When our tummies started to rumble longingly for lunch, D suggested hot dogs. He said he had a place in mind, he’d passed by it on the streetcar before, and he was interested in checking out.
We walked a couple blocks further and found ourselves at Fancy Franks, a gourmet hot dog place.
Alright, I had to give D credit, this wasn’t the cheapie street vendor dog I was expecting.
They had a really diverse menu. There were all kinds of wild and crazy hot dogs we’d never even heard of before. Certainly not your standard backyard fare.
D got the southern fancy, a hot dog loaded with pulled pork and cabbage slaw. Not what I was expecting him to choose at all:
He was quite satisfied with his choice. I on the other hand, could not resist the siren song of the corn dog:
It was so crispy! The incredibly crispy batter and delightfully juicy dog danced so divinely together in my mouth. After that first sumptuous bite, I knew I’d made the right choice. We’d died and gone to hot doggie heaven.
As we sat there eating our dogs, the sun streamed through the windows onto our faces. I closed my eyes, and for the briefest of moments, I was transported back to summer and childhood. I thought about hot dogs, and how indicative of the suburban backyard gathering they are. How easy it was for parents to put hot dogs on the grill for their kids, and add a few steaks for themselves.
Today was a perfect storm for reminiscing. A perfect storm comprised of gorgeous weather, a little free time, and delicious summertime foods. Thoughts of summer, suburbia, and childhood foods blossomed with reckless abandon in my mind, and I sat there powerless, letting them.
Hot dogs. A boring summertime staple of suburbia? Or a charmingly tasty and indulgent adventure?
Prior to today, I may have said the former. But Fancy Franks has changed everything now. Fancy Franks co-opted a convenient food from my past and transformed it into something else. Something indulgent and delicious. Something wistful and endearing. Something truly satisfying.
Can you picture it?