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EATING AROUND

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Franks For The Memory



Hot dogs and the Fourth of July are nearly as inextricably linked as turkey and Thanksgiving. According to junk-food arbiters Jane and Michael Stern, this is not necessarily cause for celebration: “To be brutally honest about this foodstuff that symbolizes our country’s cuisine: Most are vile.”

Still, there are a number of vile things in life that one has to have on a regular basis, and the tubular treat is one of them. That is why the D Magazine Wiener Evaluation Team set off in search of this town’s top dog. After spending what seemed like an eternity in Hot Dog Hell-a land where the buns are squishy, the franks are spongy, and the relish has a post-nuclear glow-we found a quartet of winners.

For the basic, cheap, sleazy hot dog. in all its steamed, characterless glory. Dog House, with a 99-cent basic dog and more than thirty area outposts, is worth a stop, especially at 3 a.m. (Dog Houses are twenty-four-hour operations.)

Then there is Chugg’s, a Gar-land shrine to Chicago-style dogs, which offers $1.49 charred or steamed hot dogs on a steamed poppy seed bun. The no-holds-barred dressing bar has everything but shredded coconut.

The high-end hot dog of choice can be found at Fuddrucker’s. The basic $2.50 hot dog is actuary plural: there are two of them in a single order and a single bun. If you cannot handle doubling your pleasure, a single is available for $1.75. The real beauty of Fuddrucker’s hot dog is that the dogs and the buns get equal billing. The grilled buns are baked on the premises and their texture is exponentially superior to the standard item.

Finally, Fletcher’s Corny Dog, invented in 1942 by Neil Fletcher for the State Fair of Texas, is a Texas classic: a hot dog skewered on a stick, dipped in cornmeal batter, and deepfried. This born-in-Dallas wonder starts at $1.35 at Fletch-er’s stands.

CHATEAU EL CHEAPO

I’ve always agreed with the wine-buying philosophy of Charles Arrowby, the narrator in Iris Murdoch’s novel, The Sea, The Sea: “In food and drink, as in many (not all) other matters simple joys are best, as any in-telligent self-lover knows. Sid-ney Ashe once offered to initiate me into the pleasures of vintage wine. I refused with scorn. Sidney hates ordinary wine and is unhappy unless he is drinking some expensive stuff with a date on it. Why wantonly destroy one’s palate for cheap wine?”

For more detailed advice on the matter, I rely on my sub-scription to Wine Discoveries. Subtitled “A Guide to Exception-al Wines Under Five Dollars,” Arthur Damond’s bi-monthly newsletter is a boon to the penurious oenophile. A year’s subscription is $12 from Wine Discoveries, P.O. Box 654, El Cerrito, Calif. 94530. Damond offers a money-back guarantee and will provide a sample copy if you send a stamped, self-ad-dressed, four-by-nine-inch envelope.

BELLY LAUGHS



Unexplained Sniglets of the Universe, by Rich Hall & Friends, with illustrations by Arnie Ten. (Collier Books, $5.95) offers a number of gastronomic guffaws among its definitions of words that will never appear in the Oxford English Dictionary, but should. Some examples:

“Alfred Hitchcooking: v. Continuously stabbing at a block of frozen vegetables to make them cook faster.”

“Cornisection: n. The systematic consumption of candy corn by sections, first biting off the white zone, then the orange zone, then the yellow zone.”

“Dennidiots: n. People who actually fill out those ’How-was-the-service’ exams on the backs of restaurant checks.”

“Dudout: n. Condition of having consumed all of one’s snack bar items before the movie even started.”

“Figforce: n. Mysterious magnetic force that holds two or more Fig Newtons together.”

“Javajetsam: n. Washed ashore coffee grounds on the rim of the cup.”

“Nougalicity: n. Degree to which a Snickers bar will stretch before the caramel snaps.”

“Nutrasecond: n. The few seconds of pleasure before the after-taste of a diet drink sets in”

“Poptroopers: n. Kernels that leap over the side of the container into the counter when popcorn is being purchased.”

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