Wednesday, April 9, 2014

An Ode to the Humble Hot Dog

Some of my favorite memories growing up are backyard cookouts at the beach. The food was generally pretty simple, hot dogs and hamburgers with potato salad and cole slaw. Dessert was s'mores or popsicles. The extended family was all together and we kids had the run of the beach. It was as close to heaven as life gets on earth.

But those halcyon summer days are gone -- as are many of the people I spent them with -- and I've learned that such days are rare and fleeting. I've had the good fortune to spend time on the deck of my friends' Long Island house more recently and will again at their just-about-restored Breezy Point house this summer. We'll still eat hamburgers and hot dogs and cole slaw and potato salad. Lucky for this hot dog and beach fan.

When I started to think about "H" both hot dogs and hamburgers came to mind. I actually eat hamburgers more than hot dogs, but I am a big hot dog fan, and this post is a salute to one of the most humble, yet beloved foods I know, the iconic hot dog.

I believe that a hot dog needs a grill -- my only exception is at baseball games -- and one spot that meets this qualification is Gray's Papaya, a hot dog restaurant on the corner of West 72nd Street and Amsterdam Avenue. I stopped by this morning to take pictures and the aroma of the dogs almost enticed me to order one at 11:00 in the morning. I resisted, but it was a great temptation.

My favorite hot dog restaurant 

You can also buy coffee and muffins, but the centerpiece is the hot dogs. 

The containers on the left have the legendary fruit drinks that include bananas, pineapple and coconut. 

There's only a counter by the window to sit at, and it's not a leisurely spot, but I'm pretty sure there's no more festive decor anywhere in New York City. 

Dear Citizens of Buttercupland, do you favor the humble hot dog or the hamburger? Ketchup or mustard? I'll take a grilled hot dog with mustard and relish and I will be very happy.

After my photo shoot at Gray's Papaya I met up with my friend Anita for lunch. We spent some time discussing the menu for Passover, which starts next Monday night. And yes, there will be a post to talk about some of the foods of the holiday. Tomorrow we're going to visit another world cuisine. 

I hope you're enjoying our Blogging from A to Z Challenge culinary adventures. Thanks, as ever, for visiting and take good care. 


Annesphamily said...

In the movie Fools Rush In Matthew Perry tells Selma Hayek about Grays Papaya hot dogs. I really wish I would have looked it up when we were in NYC but I am coming back. It was so much fun. I am a hot dog person and many years ago my sis Mary made up a topping for hotdogs and burgers. You can grill it on the grill or cook stove top. You use mushrooms, fresh or canned, some mild chili pepper stripes and onions. Add s/p and a splash of oil to marinate. Grill or cook til all veggies are soft. YUM! Love, love love these shares. Hugs, Anne

Mevely317 said...

Are you kidding? I love this series! :)
... 'cept much to Tom's chagrin, I'm not such a big hot-dog fan.

Your childhood beach cook-outs are to be envied ... maybe it's that secret ingredient I'm missing.

....Nevertheless, you've painted a delightful visual, and for that, I'm smiling!

Beatrice Euphemie said...

Hi Carol, you are lucky to live in a place with so many wonderful food offerings! I am a hot dog fan and like them either with Boston baked beans on the side or in a bun with just mustard and relish. Oh, those childhood memories are so the hanging fruit decorations in the shop. xo Karen

Sola Scriptura said...

I would go for a hamburger and definitely have one of the fruit drinks.

Jacquelineand.... said...

Hot dogs, indubitably....with spicy mustard, dill relish, and minced onion please!


Gray's Papaya looks charming. I like hamburgers and hot dogs. But sometimes a hot dog with mustard and relish really hits the spot.

I'm mostly known as 'MA' said...

Hot dogs are a staple here at my house. I do like them and my favorite is a chili dog. I always make sure to have one when I have leftover chili. But the main reason I always keep them on hand is the fact that the grandchildren love them too.

Starting Over, Accepting Changes - Maybe said...

Just the smell of a hot dog being grilled makes me hungry.

Theresa said...

We had hot dogs for dinner last night! Nothing better than a hot dog right off the grill! Chili, onions, ketchup and mustard:) YUM! Have a blessed day dear friend, HUGS!

Nellie said...

There are times when a hot dog cart is set up outside Lowe's here, and if my husband is there, he has to try the hot dog! We love them with chili, slaw, relish, mustard, and onion! In more recent years, I shop for the healthier versions - chicken or turkey - but have to watch the sodium these days.

Our church will have a Seder meal next Wednesday evening. I am looking forward to attending.

Nancy @ A Rural Journal said...

Hot dogs are awesome and so is this post! xo

Stephanie Faris said...

Yum. That's one of the best things about big-city living...great hot dogs! We have a few hot dog stands in Nashville that are really good, but they're so spread out, they aren't very convenient.

Chrys Fey said...

I'm a vegetarian, but I can still appreciate this post . . . and a soy dog loaded with everything. ;)

Susie said...

Buttercup, That is just the way I like hot dogs too. I do not eat them often...but I have one on the 4th of July. I can have a burger any time. LOL. Wow, you have so many places to choose to eat. Blessings, xoxo,Susie

Carrie-Anne said...

I'm a vegetarian, but I like tofu hotdogs with mustard and pickles, sometimes ketchup. I prefer vegetarian burgers more, though, particularly the black bean and mushroom flavors.

LuAnn Braley said...

You know, I dislike pickles, but I love putting relish on a hot dog!

You realize, of course, that all of us reading your series are going to have to visit NYC for at least two weeks so we can fit in all these wonderful places!

LuAnn Braley
AJ's Hooligans @AtoZChallenge
Back Porchervations

Suzanne McClendon said...

I love both hotdogs and hamburgers. We haven't really found any good hotdog places around here, but back home in South Carolina there were several.

The best was Skin's Hotdogs in Anderson, SC. The next best was at a gas station called Barrett's in Greenwood, SC. It was across the street from a cemetery. The third best was a place that we called "The Dump", which was also in a small town gas station. That wasn't its official name, but there was a huge dumpster in the parking lot, hence the nickname.

Out here, great hamburgers are easy to find. With "Beef. It's what's for dinner" signs everywhere, that isn't too surprising. :)

Have a great week!

Ida said...

Hotdogs are pretty tasty. I like mine with bbq sauce and pickle relish. - Gray's Papaya, was in the movie, Fools Rush In with Matthew Perry (Friends) and Selma Hayek.