Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Coming to America

So, I’ve been sitting here thinking about the origins of our humble hot dog. Maybe it’s because I’m on day 26 of this government edict for forced solitude, but to me it seems important to see what I can find.
Knott's Berry Farm in SoCal takes the hot dog to it's "berry best." Hot Dog with Boysenberry jam and Boysenberry bread bun. 

There are many stories about the beginnings of the American version of the frankfurter, most of which seem to be a bit farfetched.

The precursor to the invention of the hot dog is the simple sausage link. When it came into being is anyone’s guess, but let’s just say it was a very long time ago.

None other than Homer writes about cooking sausage in the ancient classic “The Odyssey.” In the story he writes about the first documented wiener roast.

“As when a man besides a great fire has filled a sausage with fat and blood and turns it this way and that and is very eager to get it quickly roasted. . .”

Close your eyes and you can almost hear the sizzle as the drippings off the roasting meat hit the red-hot coals of the fire.

Attracted by the amazing smells, the Romans picked up on the practice of roasting processed meats in a casing over an open fire, most likely because it was, in fact, delicious.

As the Romans conquered most of the known world, they introduced the civilized world to the concept of the sausage, (of course there is nothing to say other cultures in other parts of the world didn’t independently develop a similar method of curing and cooking meats).

The sausage finally achieved greatness when the meat forming process was turned over to the same people who gave us Octoberfest, the Germans. Great beer, warm, salty pretzels, and nice hot bratwurst.

But how did we get from the bratwurst to the “American” hot dog?

According to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council:

“Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany, is traditionally credited with originating the frankfurter. However, this claim is disputed by those who assert that the popular sausage - known as a "dachshund" or "little-dog" sausage - was created in the late 1600's by Johann Georghehner, a butcher, living in Coburg, Germany. According to this report, Georghehner later traveled to Frankfurt to promote his new product.”

Finally, the humble hot dog landed on the freedom loving shores of America. Brought over by German immigrants, the hot dog found a home among the working-class citizens of New York. Easy to eat with one hand, cheep and tasty, it made the perfect street food.

I finish this blog entry with a German saying: “Alles hat ein Ende nur die Wurst hat zwei.” (Everything has an ending, but the sausage has two).

Which apparently was made into a song in 1987, go figure.

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