05 January 2008

Bacon Days, Part 1: Bacon-Wrapped Hot Dog

When you start a conversation about hot dogs in Los Angeles, talk invariably turns to Pink's. And, in a way, Pink's does represent all that is Hollywood. Lots of glamor, lots of hype, and an ultimately empty experience. Pink's is like watching a cool trailer for a big summer movie 10 months in advance, waiting with dreams of how awesome it will be, and clawing for seats on opening night, only to realize it involves an annoying CGI character named Jar Jar who speaks quasi-ebonics with a cartoon Jamaican accent. In a word: disappointing.

While I plan to do some serious, in-depth hot dog research, just off the top of me head I'll name four hot dogs better than Pink's: The Wiener Factory in Sherman Oaks, Dodger Dogs at Dodger Stadium, Costco Polish Sausage at your local Costco Wholesaler (yes, THAT Costco Wholesaler), and the bacon-wrapped hot dog carts orbiting most sporting events.
Speaking of sporting events, allow me to serenade Pink's with my most favorite stadium chant...

Over-RATED! (clap-clap, clap-clap-clap)
Over-RATED! (clap-clap, clap-clap-clap)

Back to the bacon-wrapped dog, which apparently is a Mexican creation. If you don't think encased meat encased in more meat is appetizing, also consider that the kindly, Spanish-speaking illegal immigrant purveyors typically transport the dogs, sliced onions, and sliced bell peppers in used plastic grocery store bags, untying and dumping as needed. This is probably why the LA County Department of Health folks don't give permits for such things. But don't worry you're pretty little nose off with such details.
If the kindly, Spanish-speaking illegal immigrant asks if you want it with everything, "everything" typically includes grilled onions and peppers, mayonnaise, and mustard. The dog itself is pretty standard fare, most likely whatever was on sale that week at Ralph's or Vallarta or the back of some truck. It's the crispy bacon coating that elevates the entire affair to high levels of sublime. It provides a crunchy texture, a fatty richness, saltiness, and a seared smokiness. The bacon brings bite. It turns an everyday, ordinary hot dog into a... well, a multi-layered extravaganza of animal parts that you wouldn't otherwise eat. The bell peppers provide sweetness, the onions do that airy heat thing that onions do, the mustard adds a little tang, and the mayo goes all mayo on you.
It's victory in a bun. If these people sold horchata, I'd probably get lost in a daze of culinary goodness and stumble into traffic.

UPDATE: Bacon-wrapped hot dog vendors fight for their rights!

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