So why not start this feature with the one tubular dish that seems to contradict our hesitancy towards trying new foods in the first place. We see things like Chinese century eggs, Australian Vegemite, or British eels as something disgusting. But the signature American dish of the hotdog is truly made up of the most disgusting things you could think of putting into a grinder and passing it off as "food". Even though it is a direct ripoff of the German frankfurter, we Americans have pretty much taken this to be our own. But what does it look like another cultures?
as with many other aspects of their culture, the Japanese have taken the concept of the hotdog and given it its own unique life. Many in Japan see the hotdog as an exotic delicacy the same way we see sushi. And accordingly, Japanese chefs are given license to be as artistic and creative as possible with both presenting and seasoning this dish. Also,thanks to Takeru Kobayashi, the simple act of eating a hotdog is seen as an athletic event to many in Japan... Let's take a look at some of the variation that can be seen in just one Japanese fast food chain...
|Image courtesy of http://www.japadog.com|
Japadog became so successful in its native Japan, that there are franchises opening up in the United States and elsewhere. I myself have never tried them, but judging from the menu I would assume that it's a pretty unique experience!
I chose Thailand next, because according to my research this country tends to be one of the hardest in the world for Americans to assimilate into, food wise. Mostly because we don't like insects. As beautiful and unique a culture as Thailand is, an American walking through their equivalent of a food court in any Bangkok street market won't be the most appetizing of experiences. It's been said that your average Thai will pretty much eat anything that isn't obviously poisonous. So stalls selling scorpions, grasshoppers, ginormous unidentifiable mantises, and even fish eyes on a stick are more common than a hotdog stand.
But finicky Westerners can take heart, because the hotdog does exist in Thai culture. None of the research I have done has told me exactly what meat goes into said hotdog, but it's in the shape of a tube and can be drowned in the toppings of your choice as to make it palatable (I like mine light on the fish eyes). Below is a picture of the hot dogs available from vendors on the streets of Bangkok and even Phuket...
|Image Courtesy of Wikipedia|
Brazil is one of the most common places in the world where you will see Europeans and Americans trying to make a home. There is extremely vibrant expat community here,and the native Brazilians have taken their cuisine and added their signature flamboyant mannerisms to things like the humble hot dog. The street vendors in Rio are known for their over-the-top use of condiments and it's not uncommon to see peas, sweetcorn, mashed potatoes, and french fries share the condiment corridor with huge gobs of mustard, mayo, and katsup.
|Brazillian Street Dog From Jason Perlow's Food Blog, Off the Broiler|
I will always end this feature with what I have found in my own host country of Costa Rica. Here the Ticos follow pretty much the same cues from Brazil in that they like to go over the top with the toppings and the condiments. But one big difference between Costa Rican hot dogs and others in the world is that oftentimes the hot dog itself is not cooked. It's placed raw in the bun, and served as a cold sandwich. The going ratio is you have about a 50% chance to order a hot dog in Costa Rica and get a cold surprise....best to ask ahead. I can't say that I really like this variation too much but I have tried it a couple times when hungry and in a pinch, and it really wasn't so bad. One of the main Tico aspects of their signature hotdog is the use of repollo, which is essentially coleslaw without dressing (cold shredded cabbage).
I hope you enjoyed this first installment, see you next Sunday for more international twists on American food that will make you shudder or drool!