The Round Dog

Little did I realize that July 21 is “National Hotdog Day.”  {extended side note:  Who gets to decide these “National Days” anyway?  And if we’re honoring the Hotdog, wouldn’t July 4th be better suited?  After all, that’s  when Nathan’s in Coney Island stages its annual – and now televised on ESPN – Hotdog eating contest!  By the way, if you join Hotdog Eating Fantasy League, make sure you get Joey Chestnut on your fantasy team – he downed a nifty 76 Nathans & buns in 10 minutes.  Getting back… maybe it’s a Congressional thing subject to typical finagling and horse trading by the various states’ delegations to get these “Days” onto the national calendar.  Massachusetts wants a “National New England Clam Chowder Day.”  California wants a “National Garlic Day.”  Louisiana insists on a “National Étoufée Day.”  One thing for sure, this is not a “Red State/Blue State” thing. Every State by agreement is probably entitled to its signature food stuff.}

As it turns out I had just placed an order for hotdogs from a purveyor in New Jersey and my shipment arrived on July 20.  Unexpectedly, good fortune favored me! But before proceeding further a question needs to be addressed: What the hell was I doing ordering hotdogs from across state lines? Don’t they sell Hummel’s (my favorite) at the local Stop & Shop?  Had they run out?  (No. In stock and very available).   

I took the extra step of ordering 16 Hotdogs from Rastelli’s of New Jersey because of an advert  w/photo that was inserted into my Facebook feed showing a round disc of a hotdog sitting on a hamburger bun, stacked with lettuce, a tomato slice & pickle chips.  {a shorter side note: I get these types of adverts because I have responded & purchased on line from a select group of things-to-eat concerns: Nebraska Bison, Eastern Standard Provisions pretzels, Virginia Diner peanuts, Wolferman’s English muffins & Cajun Grocer’s turducken & live crayfish}.  That advert popped up on my feed for three days running before I decided to pull the trigger and place an order.  I tarried because while the photo intrigued, I found the condiment assemblage to be an affront that bordered on sacrilege. Tomato, lettuce & pickle chips?  Isn’t that a Chicago thing?  The Windy City is also known for producing a sub-standard pizza style.

But once I got past that horrific depiction and read the associated text, and I warmed to the concept of the round dog.  Better for getting a good char on the grill.  Better platform for containing your favorite toppings (the correct ones).  Eliminates the need for two different types of cook-out buns.  Ok,  it was worth a shot, even if I had no idea that there was a National Hotdog Day in the offing.

It should be noted that these Rastelli folks offer far more than weird shaped hotdogs.  A full range of meats, poultry & fish.  And their shipping container? It looked like Rastelli’s could have been shipping me nuclear waste products.  A box arrived the size of a small table (this is for 16 3oz hotdogs), with enough insulation to safeguard Covid-19 vaccines, and then within the outer box, a nested smaller box, and then within the smaller box a rather impressive (Sandy said, “outrageous” and “fancy-shmancy”) frozen-food zippered freezer bag containing enough dry ice to keep a steer’s hind-quarter frozen, and my 16 round hotdogs.  Well… no wonder why these franks ain’t cheap.

As to the dogs… as previously noted, I’m a Hummel’s man (pork).  But Sandy prefers beef.  The Rastellis’ are a combination of Angus beef and pork.  Yes, the hotdogs look like a slab of bologna, but appearance notwithstanding these are clearly hotdogs in taste and texture.  My preferred condiment choices for hotdogs are yellow mustard and green relish.  Sometimes I add sauerkraut.  My “alt” hotdog is a chili-cheese dog.  Sandy’s are sauerkraut and mustard & mustard and sauerkraut.  We are boring people.  We also share in the belief that people who order pizza with pineapple and ham should be deported.

It was July 21 and as it turned out, I was fully equipped to honor the day.  I made the decision to put two dogs into play.  One with my stand-by: yellow mustard, although I replaced the India relish with dill pickle chips (which I reckoned didn’t represent a violation of taste).  And one dog with chili & cheese.  I sourced the chili from LaBonne’s Market (house made, good, but mine is better by miles, but I had none in the freezer).  Sandy stuck to mustard, kraut and added the dill pickle chips on a whim.

Our take on the results… Jim: Hey!  That was pretty damned good!  Sandy: It was a hotdog.

Sandy’s lukewarm response puts me in mind of the story about an American tourist on seeing the Mona Lisa remarked, “I don’t think her smile is so great.”

Post Script #1:  I opened a bottle of an Alsatian Riesling & a Walker Road Red from a Woodbury Winery to pair with our round dogs.
Post Script #2: Sometimes I enjoy my dogs “bunless” with a good sized portion of Bush’s Grilling Beans. In that instance, I think the aesthetics would be wrong with a round dog.
Post Script #3: Sandy, as it pertains to her, disputes the “boring” characterization.
Post Script #4:  The pineapple & ham on pizza people should also have their eyes gouged out.

Staging Zone:

Draw back the curtain, dig in:

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