In the time we were in New York, I think I ate hot dogs on three separate occasions. Once on the ferry between the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. And two other times from hot dog carts. In my mind, there are few things as wonderful.
Whenever I come back to New York, I always look for the blue and yellow Sabrett’s hot dog umbrella. Papaya dogs are good and fine. Grey’s Papaya is good too. But there’s nothing quite like the Sabrett’s. the casing is just right, the seasonings are savory, and length of the dog is always longer than the bun. This all makes for balance. The ratio of meat to the sweetness of the hot dog bun is perfect.
And, when you get it from a hot dog cart, there are always three things that they do that I just can’t get anywhere else – particularly not Chicago. One, they will put ketchup on the hot dog without giving me any grief. Two, spicy mustard is the only mustard option. Third, no matter how busy they get, they meticulously stick to the rule that ketchup and mustard go on the hot dog before sauerkraut. This is important because it makes the hot dog easier to eat.
There is a rhythm and melody to a hot dog cart vendor. They use the tongs not just for picking up food, but for opening and closing the lids to the various compartments of the cart. The sound of the aluminum tong against the opening and closing of aluminum cart lids makes for a repetitive clang that is literally music to my ears. Whenever I hear it, I salivate.