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Hot Dog varieties: The Half-Smoke

One of my simple guilty pleasures that I indulge in on every trip to the DC metro area: A “Half Smoke” hot dog , with mustard and “cooked onion” sauce. Many of you that aren’t from broader Washington, DC metropolitan area are probably asking, “what the heck is a half-smoke?” Like many areas (Chicago and Rochester being particularly good examples), Washington, DC has it’s own particular variant of the hot dog, the half-smoke. A half-smoke is a close cousin to the hot dog, but is a slightly larger and spicier sausage, with a level of seasoning halfway between a typical smoked sausage and a hot dog, hence the name. Interestingly, however, the sausage itself isn’t smoked (halfway or otherwise).

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Concerning Pasties

During last month’s trip to London for my brother’s wedding, Carol and I took a long side-trip down to Cornwall to visit with my sister-in-law’s family and visit some of Cornwall’s many scenic attractions (as well as learning the joys of barreling down narrow Cornish B-roads at 50 mph, a treat not to be missed…). And no visit to Cornwall is complete without at least one sampling of the hallmark of Cornish cuisine: the pasty.

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The Full English (various UK establishments)

One of the great joys of visiting England is the ability to enjoy the masterpiece of English breakfast cuisine: the “Full English”, also known as a “fry up”. Many philosophical discussions revolve around the ingredients constituting a proper “Full English”, but this is basically a dish built upon a combination of English-style bacon rashers and some eggs. However, bacon and eggs alone does not a “Full English” make…

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Concerning Chicago Style Hot Dogs (Chicago, IL)

One of the great things about hot dogs is that they really do have a fair bit of regional variation. I’ve had “rippers” from Rutt’s Hut in New Jersey. I’ve had Coney Islands in Detroit (not to be confused with a Nathan’s hot dog from the actual Coney Island). I’ve had Rochester whites. Rochester red hots. Carolina slaw dogs. The list goes on. One of my favorite varieties, however, is the Chicago-style Hot Dog. Not content to just have an hot dog on a bun, Chicagoans demand that pretty much every aspect of the hot dog is pimped. The hot dog itself must be all-beef (preferably Vienna brand). The bun should have poppy seeds on it. The preferred condiments are chopped onions, sliced tomatoes, livid-green relish, celery salt, a pickle, and just enough “sport peppers” lined up to match the length of the hot dog. It’s known as “draggin’ it through the garden,” and, quite frankly, I like the result, even if it does bury the hot dog a little bit.

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Concerning Bacon

I’m always astonished that here in the United States we don’t do more with bacon. We have a large pork industry. People here also really like bacon, and many of us eat a little too much of it to be considered healthy. But at most grocery stores I go to, there is generally just one type of bacon: “bacon.” If you’re lucky, there are a few brands, some more thickly sliced than others. Maybe some token peppered bacon or maple bacon. But in general, we live in a bacon wasteland. To quote a coworker of mine, “bacon is bacon, it’s a commodity.” Oh, how sorely wrong he is…

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