Sunday, September 15, 2013

Photo-of-the-Week #124 Behold! The Mighty Chicago Style Hot Dog, Chicago, Illinois, October 2011

For some reason, there has been a discussion of food on the Vandweller Group over the past week or so. The original query posed was:

"What do you do for food? I mean, with the limited space I've seen in the refers and usually no freezer...wouldn't you have to constantly be running to a grocery store? Do you live off of canned food?"

As is typical, the basic answers began to flow and then the tangents began appearing. The fact that excavated Egyptian mummies showed plaque build up in their arteries turned into nutritional information. Then a tangent on eating in moderation, but enjoying some of the many less nutritional, but extremely tasty foods available, including some fast foods began. And, yes, yours truly jumped right in with both feet.

I'm not sure if it was me or someone else who introduced the mighty hot dog, certainly as much of Americana and the American Way as Apple Pie, Mom and the American Flag. But, that tangent went through not only a variety of hot dogs, but also the bratwurst, Italian sausage and I even added kielbasa. The bottom line is that few of us can pass up a really good "tube of death" as a dietitian friend of mine calls them. Well, "tube of death" or not, I love a (or two or even three) great hot dog. I grew up with them and I'm still around nearly 70 years later. So, I have no plans on giving up this majestic piece of Americana that's at home at baseball games, the boardwalks  the beach, parades, backyard barbecues, the streets of New York City and any place else fast, fun, tasty food is enjoyed.

So, behold the mighty Chicago style hot dog. The beauty you see pictured above is from Portillo's in downtown Chicago. This is a must go experience when you're in Chicago or the Chicago area (since they have branched out they have restaurants outside the city limits). But, walking to the downtown location is a treat. I believe it may be the original location after they moved indoors from the hot dog trailer, called The Dog House, and expanded to over 50 restaurants in several states around the U.S. their humble beginnings in 1963. It's still privately owned by Dick Portillo (now in his early 70's) and his family.

Now, there is, of course, competition in Chicago. There are other small, independent establishments serving the uniquely styled Chicago style hot dog. And some are reputed to be better. I can't vouch for that one way or the other. I'll simply say that it's a treat for me to go to Portillo's when I'm in Chicago. But, in the future, I will try some of the other establishments. Whether or not my palate can ascertain the difference and select one over another is not important. It's all about the experience... and I'm up for it.

In the future (the future beginning later this week) I'll be visiting and enjoying the hot dog specialties of as many places as I can around the U.S. This week I'll be in my hometown of Clifton, New Jersey where I'll stop in at my favorite hometown hot dog place, Rutt's Hut, for what is called a "Ripper." They were rated in the top ten hot dogs by Public Television. I'll also do my best to make my way over to Hiram's, another great hot dog place  in Fort Lee, New Jersey that I enjoyed during my college years. When I'm over in the Maryland area, Glen Burnie to be precise, I'll be stopping at Ann's Dari-Creme for the best double foot long, chili-cheese dog on a sub roll with mustard and onions and whatever else they can cram on it. I'm sorry I won't be able to share the aroma or the taste with you, but I'll grab some photos and, perhaps, you'll be motivated to try some of these places out yourself. It might take a day or two off your life, but, believe it, it will be worth it.   


Linda Sand said...

Yeah, you get the blame for starting the hot dog tangent. :) I like my hot dogs just barely warmed up with the tiniest amount of yellow mustard. If there's butter available I slather that on. People I know find it hard to believe I like them that way.

Anonymous said...

I live down the road from Ann's. I love to go in there just to see people order their food. Nothing is ever written down. And we have never gotten a mistake !!! Thanks for the shout-out!!!!!!!