When does a hot dog become more than a hot dog and turn into a gastronomical event worthy of equal parts praise and belt busting gluttony?
The 21st century has brought with it some futuristic alterations to the ballpark. High definition jumbotrons have changed the way we absorb blooper reels and wider, brighter concourses have created the appropriate amount of space for various children’s amusements in case the slow play on the field cannot keep up with the attention deficient synapses of America’s hyperactive youth.
But above all these things the hot dog, that stadium staple dating all the way back to the time of Abner Doubleday, has experienced the greatest culinary metamorphosis. Long are the days when a ballpark frank, steamed to perfection and left sweating in its own meaty juices, came delivered by an equally pungent and aromatic vendor who could offer you nothing more than the simple choice of mustard or ketchup. If you were lucky there was relish readily available and only on those very special occasions, when the sun and stars aligned, could you find a spoonful of perfectly chopped onions. Ahhh simplicity in the design.
But today the ballpark dog comes adorned with more accoutrements than a supermodel at a fashion show. The hotdog has gone from star to sidekick with the role of alpha belonging to stand alone artists formerly known as chili, candied bacon and even a churro, a pastry most prefer as sugar treat at the state fair. Stadium concession purveyors have gone to great creative lengths to deliver fans with the latest taste bud treat.
Cooking shows have been dedicated to less material than the 21st century ballpark hot dog. Which begs the question, where should I begin?