************BUN FULLY INTENDED************
On the business of hot dog buns, it depends if I’m having the frankfurter in question out or around the manse. On the road, I’m actually more interested in seeing how each individual purveyor has solved the eternal hot dog quandary: What to put it on?
Sizes and textures vary. In the Mid-Atlantic region, New England style rolls are virtually non-existent. Though, it would be a bold stroke if someone here did serve a wiener on one, preferably buttered and toasted.
Nope, aside from the occasional place that dares vary from the norm, like the Galloping Hill Inn (Union, NJ), which serves their heralded pork/beef offering on football-shaped buns, around these parts the buns rarely dare compete with what are generally acknowledged as some of the best hot dogs in the Whole Wide World.
And that just may be the problem. Like the child of the famous artist, daunted by his immediate ancestor’s creative prowess, perhaps the buns feel that to compete with the internationally renowned franks would be an exercise in futility.
And so, out and about, in this neck of the woods we have wonderful tube steak, but alas, buns that at best know their place…important indeed, but supporting players all the same.
Now at home, it is a different story altogether. That I can recall, I’ve never ever bought a package of hot dog buns. They’ve always seemed such a mass of superfluous calories. Would you eat cotton candy if it had virtually no taste? Edison sought the right filament for his light bulb. I remain vigilant in my quest for the perfect hot dog cradle. Call it a work in progress…and a rather arduous one at that.
But then again, while forever experimenting, I’ve never satisfactorily found their proper replacement. I admit it. And there s the rub.
Occasionally, while trying out something new, I’ve uttered "Eureka. However, aside from scaring the burghers in the little village below, it has generally proved a false eureka. For I inevitably acknowledge that I really hadn’t solved the quandary at all…only complicated it with another in the endless audition of hot dog bun substitutes.
Yet, like Greenstreet at the end of "The Maltese Falcon," when he finds out it’s not the falcon after all, after a brief bit of sniffling I’m off again to Istanbul, figuratively speaking, still in search of that elusive accompaniment.
It’s a lonely pursuit, but someone has to do it. Not so that they put up a statue of me someday on the lawn of Johnson & Wales or at the New York Culinary Institute (though, that would be nice), but for the satisfaction of a mission accomplished. Knowing that now there’ll be a better life for all those poor little kids who heretofore had to eat nondescript doughy nothings around their hot dogs prior to my discovery would be reward enough.
And so, in bazaars and markets throughout the world, I’m always in search.
That there…isn t that an English Muffin? Might that work if it were shaped like a hot dog bun? It has crannies, and nooks, too. Would they aid and abet, or detract? So on and so it goes.
In the meantime, at home between journeys, this endless trial and error allows the gardens to languish and prompts the horses to neigh for attention. But save for the random sourdough baguette, which works in a love-the-one-your-with sort of way, I generally eat my dogs sans roll. Not giving in to the quotidian bun, I opt instead for plate, knife, fork, mustard and a healthy side dish of beans. To do otherwise would be to admit defeat.
Mind you, they can’t stand up to the dogs. But they make no pretense. They are what they are. Arrange them right and at least they amount to a hill of beans. You can respect them for that. And unlike the hot dog bun, aren’t merely living on their laurels.