May 26, 2016

Mostly cloudy

Hot dogs make me very happy


Staff Writer

There’s this little butcher shop in the Old Brooklyn neighborhood of Cleveland where I get much of my meat. It’s called the Sausage Shoppe on Memphis Ave.

The sausages, brats and hot dogs are virtually fat-free and are made in the back with loving care by a nationally renowned butcher, Norm Heinle, who has been written up in both gourmet and health magazines. People come from miles around to shop there.

Anyway, my son’s girlfriend, who runs a fancy catering operation at a golf course in Columbus, got a taste of one of Norm’s German garlic weiners and it was love at first bite. This is not your ordinary hot dog.

She wonders about introducing them at her golf course but the economics might not work because they cost a couple of pennies more than the industrial strength pre-packaged fat dogs on which Americans have been weaned.

Cost be damned! They taste better and are healthier than any hot dog you or I have ever eaten. Only now, late in life, have I discovered them. 

As we approach another baseball season, I can almost recall the aroma of hot dogs at the old Stadium and the scent of authentic, original Stadium Mustard.

The hot dog of my youth was a skinny frank slathered in Stadium Mustard and tucked in a steamed bun. The ingredients were equally essential — skinny dog, plenty of Stadium Mustard, steamed bun.

When I was a kid I could have won the Coney Island hot dog eating contest. That fellow from Japan would not have had a chance. I would have embarrassed him. I would have beaten him six days a week, but never on a Friday.

When I was at my hot dog eating prime, back in the 1940’s and 50’s, Catholics were not permitted to eat meat on Fridays. The rule was revised in the 1960’s and today it applies only to the six Fridays during Lent, but in the old days every Friday of our lives was meatless. That’s why they called us fish eaters and mackeral snappers.

I don’t think Pope Pius XII realized the extent of my Stadium hot dog addiction. My love for them burned so intensely that they became a near occasion of sin, as the nuns would say.

Look at it this way. When were kids most likely to go to Indians’ games at the Stadium? Saturdays and Sundays, of course, but also Friday nights.

Before leaving for a game on Friday nights, my mother would always remind me, “Remember that it’s Friday.”

How could I forget? Every Friday we had tomato soup for lunch and tuna noodle casserole for dinner. 

As I got older they introduced a thick, spicy dog in the press box which for a while we thought was the cat’s meow, if you’ll excuse an outrageous metaphor, but over time they wore out their welcome. You just can’t eat that much fat. My arteries are paying the price now and I’ve got a scar on my chest to prove it.

Too bad Norm wasn’t making his German garlic weiners then. If he had been, the Pope and I would have had issues.