There is something inherently disgusting, yet exquisitely divine about a hotdog. As a New Yorker, I feel it is hard to refuse one, as if you by some unseen force, you are attracted to every dirty-water steam cart you pass by on the sidewalk. Pretzels and hot dogs–and when I say pretzels I mean big, kosher salted, soft pretzels, warm enough to almost burn your tongue. I swear, New Yorkers could live on that diet. Don’t forget the Dr Brown’s soda, with the rat feces flecked across the top and lip of the can. It is as if everything about this operation is unsanitary, filthy, and, unhealthy. But that seems to be the draw. For some reason the cart excuses the unknown ingredients of the tube meat–the chemicals which are poured into the casing, the lips and assholes that are ground together to make nirvana in a bun–because of all this, it is ok.
Now, if you were in a restaurant, and you sat down, that would instantly change the appeal. Could you imagine if you took the cart, and expanded it to a restaurant. The same guy serving you the hotdog, out back as the cook or chef, slinging your food around the kitchen, the same fingers handling money, handling your bun and dog, you would walk out demanding a refund. But there is something inherently mystical about street food, something we just can’t live without. It is as if the pulse of an area is measured by how many food trucks, trailers, and carts can ply their cheap food to the public, without some unknown, intestinal illness, striking the population.
We all love this food, and the cart, well it forgives all this. The big yellow umbrella, it just draws us in. I think it is our inner child screaming to relive the fourth of July, or family barbecues when you didn’t have to host them, but instead ran around barefoot in the yard, chasing fireflies and shooting off illegal fireworks much to your neighbors chagrin. Our inner teen remembers the nights at 7-11, where a buck-fifty bought a big bite, with all the toppings you could get–where the hotdog was lost, awash in a sea of chili and radioactive orange cheese, the greenest, most verdant relish known to humankind floating atop this diarrhea inducing delight. So, I say, here, here, to the most dirty of our foods, handled in the most unsanitary ways, in which we all shrug our shoulders at and say, ‘just one more.’
And then, there is food at a fair……