Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Paradigm Check

I don't know why, but this blog is definitely getting more visitors from places with different hot dog cultures. I've gotten a whole series of emails recently that go something like this:

"OK, you make it abundantly clear that you eat chili and slaw on your hot dogs, but what about the hot dog itself? Is it all-beef? Is it natural casing or skinless? What brand is it?" These questions are usually accompanied by the language of frustration and often have an undertone of "you ignorant hillbilly!"

All of these questions reflect a fundamental misunderstanding, the kind of which is difficult to explain because it is asked from a completely different frame of reference than the one in which I live. But let me try:

When I tell you about my hot dog and then you ask , "but what about the hot dog?" the question sound like nonsense to me because I think of a hot dog only as a complete sandwich. It seems that your question is first and foremost interested in what I call the "wiener" or "weenie". For you, this part of the sandwich is what makes or breaks it. For me, it is one of four necessary parts of the whole and I don't get too wrapped up in what it's made of or how it tastes. As long as it isn't offensive tasting (and some are) if it sits in a good bun and has great chili and slaw on it it can still be a first-class West Virginia hot dog.

Now I completely understand that you folks that reside where Chicago or New York hot dog cultures dominate place a great deal of emphasis on the meat inside the bun. I realize that the differences between your hot dog joints are largely based on the different taste of the wiener. So why is it so hard for you to understand that the quality of our hot dogs is dependent on the toppings? It shouldn't be that difficult to understand, but still the questions persist.

"You mean the onions are RAW?" asks one Chicagoan. "No peppers at all?" asks an unidentified northerner. "Yellow mustard? How bourgeois!" writes a man from the Great Plains. And that doesn't even begin to address the hundreds of emails that insinuate that eating coleslaw on a hot dog is akin to eating roadkill 'possum.

You see, as proud Appalachian-Americans, it is difficult for us to hear your questions and snide comments as anything less than a slam of our culture. For generations we have been ridiculed for our simple ways, our unique dialects and our laid back attitudes toward life in general. Many a hoity-toity do-gooder have come here to try to impose their culture and values on us. Don't get me wrong, we love it when people come to visit and learn about our culture, but we like things the way we like them. On purpose. It is our nature to be hospitable but we are fiercely protective of our way of life.

So, welcome, ya'll, to the West Virginia Hot Dog Blog. Enjoy yourself while you're here and come back often to visit. Tell your friends about us and invite them to come by and say "howdy." You will always find a welcome place here in the mountains.

But don't screw with our hot dogs. Yankee bastards.


The Film Geek said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Film Geek said...

Excellent commentary, Stanton. And I even looked up the word "bourgeois" (I typically use "pedestrian", but I suppose "bourgeois" sounds a lot cooler...if you're going for cool).

I am always surprised when people complain about or argue against another's cultural practices by explaining how "we do it 'round here." Which is, of course, the best way.

Paradigms, indeed.

larryosaurus said...

Great post Stanton!
Did you notice the url for the Rockefeller pic is CrimeLibrary and Notorius Murders?!? :)

wvapoker said...

Fit to print!

rcw85 said...

"But don't screw with our hot dogs. Yankee bastards."

Couldn't have said it better myself. Love it.

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NOTE: Do not speak English, used the site: # en | en | Post 20Comments% 20% (Atom)

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Eat Nopales said...

Chicago... Crapcago... NY... New Schmoe... the best regional style of Hot Dogs are in Mexico City... bacon wrapped dogs, carmelized onions, jalapenos, fresh tomatoes, aged cotija cheese, crema etc.,