Now that the baseball season is over (for me, at least), and the grilling season is winding down I’ve had some time to reflect on one of my favorite ballpark foods – the hot dog. Yes, the lowly hot dog, made of ground meat, some bread, and toppings all rolled into a convenient carry anywhere package. Baseball and hot dogs go well together, yes they do. It’s one of the only hot foods that the walkaround concessions guys can serve you fresh. It goes great with a soda or beer. The best part is that it is a canvas that you can paint with multiple flavor combinations to make vastly different culinary treats.
Now, living in Boston, when I think of a hot dog I think of the ubiquitous Fenway Frank. So named after Boston’s cathedral of baseball, the Fenway Frank isn’t any ordinary hot dog. Usually boiled or steamed, the hot dog is then inserted into a New England style split bun. Split buns are probably not very popular outside of our area, but I think they do have a prime advantage in that they’re easier to toast, being flat on both sides. That makes it easier to butter and keep them golden brown over inconsistent heat.
Once you’ve gotten that far, you now have your choice of dog decorations. Most people don’t think of Fenway Franks as specific dog-and-condiment combination like Chicago dogs, for instance. Chicago dogs are best known for their multitude of crazy things combined into one single hot dog. However, the Fenway Frank isn’t really defined by a group of toppings. Instead, the unique combination of spice and meat itself defines the hot dog experience. You can, of course, place your choice of condiments on the dog. The walkaround guys will have onions, relish, spicy brown mustard, and for the heathens, ketchup. I’m sure you can also get sauerkraut and other doodads around the park, but that’s usually what the roving vendors carry. I prefer mine with onions and brown mustard.
The best part about Fenway Franks? You can buy them at a grocery store. Can you buy Yankee dogs at the store? I don’t think so.