Sunday, May 24, 2009

Hot Dog Classification Project Part II: Genteel Dogs

Genteel (jen-teel' )- adjective - 1. Striving to convey a manner or appearance of refinement and respectability. Genteel Dogs are the second, and perhaps the most prevalent class of hot dogs sold at West Virginia HDJs. The above definition of "genteel" (courtesy of really hits the nail on the head when it comes to these hot dogs and the motivation behind them. They are neater in appearance than Utilitarian Dogs and most times there is some thought given to the presentation even if they are served in a coffin (which is almost always how they are packaged to go since the coffin protects them from being misshapen by handling during delivery). As you might suspect, sometimes all of this effort to make the hot dog appear more respectable is really just an attempt at covering up one that has been made with less than respectable ingredients. I am sure that I speak for the other Weenie Wonks when I say that some of the most carefully assembled and presented hot dogs were also some of the most bland tasting dogs we've had the misfortune of reviewing. But sometimes the opposite is true: The HDJ has a good tasting product and want to give it the presentation that it deserves. Presentation aside, Genteel Dogs dogs are also likely to have perceived upgrades in the weenies, buns and onions to further give the "appearance of refinement and respectability." All Beef weenies are regularly offered in this class, as are over-sized large caliber weenies of unknown content that are simply identified as "premium." Some of these are truly an upgrade and some are just bigger. Say what you will but when it comes to hot dog weenies, it's not the size that counts: Bigger is not better. Buns, likewise, are open for negotiation for Genteel Dogs. Good ol' Heiners standard buns are often eschewed in favor of one that is a crustier, larger or dusted with some kind of grain. New England Style buns, grilled or toasted, reside exclusively in this class. If standard buns are used, great care is taken to ensure that it retains its shape so steaming is out of the question. Onions are unpredictable in this class. They might be sweet, hot, yellow, white, red or Vidalias, but the one constant is that they are chopped in larger chunks in this class than you will usually find on Utilitarian Dogs. Interestingly enough, slaw is one topping that varies little from the kind you might find on Utliltarian Dogs, except that it is usually applied with more care. And mustard is mustard unless the HDJ takes the pretense up a notch and uses Dijon; an offense that should be punishable by law (and that usually only happens in the third and final class of WVHDs that will be discussed in a future post).
Since I have already admitted my preference for Utilitarian Dogs, I will further confess that I rarely find Genteel Dogs to be as satisfying. The most obvious exception for me would be Swiftwater Cafe in Charleston, whose dogs are definitely Genteel. Swiftwater's weenie is larger and beefier than most. The chili is pretty tasty and the slaw is terrific. The bun isn't steamed and they take great care in placing the toppings without squashing down the bulk. Which leads me to another point on the Genteel Dog: One has to open one's mouth much wider for a GD than a UD. For some this is a problem. Please keep your off-color sexist comments to yourselves.
Genteel Dogs can be found at diners like Red Line Diner in St. Albans or DJ's in Fairmont, and most sit-down restaurants that sell hot dogs other than those on the kid's menu.
Next up: Artisan Dogs


The Film Geek said...

I am really enjoying this series, and I agree so far with your classifications. But, I can't really use the word "genteel" without smirking. For some reason, it always reminds me of the sort of guy cowboys used to call a "dandy."

And dandies are funny.

Damn funny.

I eat a lot of this classification of dogs, I think. Had a couple the other day at Griffith and Feil.

ChaseNFold said...

We just got a new dog joint here in town. NC is not known for good hot dogs and we are always looking and hoping. They have what you call Genteel dogs for sure. How'd you like a review? WV Dog an in NC

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