Thursday , February 29 2024
Some thoughts on hot dogs and marshmallows on an open fire.

Hot Dogs and Marshmallows

Since Saturdays are the only days when burning is legal in South Union Township, I spent the first morning of the Memorial Day weekend tending to the stack of branches that had accumulated on the burn pile since the middle of April. It was indeed a mighty pile, and it took past lunch time to get rid of it, as well as all the odd pieces that had fallen with the wind, but hadn't yet quite made it to the pile.

Anyway, along about noon, my wife, who had spent the morning cultivating her garden in true Panglossian fashion, came down to admire the blaze, and suggested that as long as we had such a nice fire going, why not roast a few hot dogs for lunch?

"It's kind of a big fire," I opined, pointing to the confalgration. "Kind of hard to get close to. Need one heck of a long st…"

"I'll get the dogs," she said.

Now I don't know, dear reader, how you feel about it, but when it comes to hot dogs, I am most particular. The only hot dog worth eating, as far as I am concerned, is the all-beef kosher, like Hebrew National or that most reasonable of facsimiles, Nathan's. My wife, on the other hand, a Smart Balance, no-fat kind of person, goes for something she calls a hot dog, but that seems to be made out of turkey. This to my mind is tantamount to sacrilege. At least it would be if anybody in his or her right mind considered chopped up turkey shaped like a hot dog to be a hot dog. I mean, let's get real. Is it the shape that makes the dog?

She shaved the ends of two longer boughs. On one she put my real hot dog; on the other she put her turkey thing. We roasted. The fire was blazing. The dogs were roasting. Our faces were glowing. Our faces were getting red. Our faces were just about done. Still, hot dogs cooked on an open fire are no doubt worth a little discomfort. Roasting them brings back all the camping trips with the Boy Scouts, the family picnics, the…

"We need longer sticks," she said.

A few more minutes and my dog and her bird sausage were done, with charred spots and even a few bubbles; perfect. Except, I don't know how you feel about it, dear reader, but when it comes to hot dogs, I am most particular. There is only one condiment to slather atop the all-beef kosher dog or reasonable facsimile thereof, and that one condiment is mustard — yellow, brown; French's, Gulden's — either will do, but only mustard. My beloved, on her "fauxfurter," slathers mustard alright, but it is honey mustard. Honey mustard — the thought of it alone could make you retch. And if this isn't blasphemy enough, she must add ketchup to boot.

Certainly there are those who eat hot dogs with ketchup and mustard, certainly those who use ketchup alone; certainly there are those who kick puppies and sing karaoke. On the other hand, I suppose it could be argued that what she was eating wasn't really a hot dog anyway, so she could dress it with whatever garbage her little heart desired. In fact, since what we're talking about is turkey, mayonnaise would most likely be the most appropriate topper.

I won't discuss sauerkraut, onions, relish, cheese, and chili. These are subjects for another day. Suffice it to say, none of the above were available for today's dogs.

"Be nice if we had some marshmallows," she said.

The last time we roasted marshmallows over the fire was in the fall, when the grandchildren were visiting from out of town. We speared then on boughs for the kids, and we all roasted. My wife likes hers nice and brown all around the marshmallow. I favor flambe. I like to burn a nice charcoal crust on the outside. I like a lovely gooey mess inside, preferably one that sticks to the end of the bough. The kids liked them straight out of the bag. They liked roasting them well enough; they just didn't like eating them roasted.

We even tried making s'mores. We wrapped chocolate, marshmallows and graham crackers in aluminum foil, settled them in the smoldering ashes, and waited. After a minute or two the kids wanted to know if they were ready (sort of the s'mores version of "are we there yet"). Give them a few more minutes, we reasoned. Ten or so seconds passed, and again the kids wanted to know if they were s'mores yet. They weren't. The chocolate hadn't melted; the marshmallows were still cold. We put them back for awhile, but they never did grow up to be s'mores. Besides, the kids were more than happy eating the marshmallows out of the bag, the chocolate out of the wrapper, and the crackers out of the box. Who needs s'mores?

More than likely we won't burn again until the fall. More than likely we'll get out the hot dogs and the marshmallows: maybe the Saturday before Labor Day.

About Jack Goodstein

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