- Hot dogs are economical, delicious, versatile, and long-lasting.
- In quarantine, these are the most important qualities in a food.
- Ergo, hot dogs are the best quarantine food.
- This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.
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I woke up yesterday like I have every day for the past four and a half weeks: briefly content for a fraction of a second, before the crushing weight of the biological and political disaster happening outside the walls of my apartment shakes me back to reality.
Such is life in coronavirus quarantine, and it will remain that way for the forseeable future. But as I walked from my bedroom to the kitchen, I sniffed the air like a bored cop outside a high school party. I paused, and considered the unmistakable aroma wafting up the stairs. Hot dog.
My landlord lives on the first floor, and he often cooks bacon in the morning. This time, however, he added hot dogs to the mix, which suggested that he was enjoying a breakfast of bacon-wrapped hot dogs. (I respect and fear my landlord.)
Besides distracting me from my actual job, it also got me thinking. I soon arrived at my most reasonable conclusion in weeks.
Hot dogs are the best quarantine food.
Disgusting, you might be thinking. You uncultured fool. Well, my friend, you are wrong.
Hot dogs, already a favorite food of mine under normal circumstances, have ascended to the astral meat plane since the quarantine began. They check all the boxes:
- Low-maintenance, but capable of transforming into haute cuisine
- Most importantly: delicious.
You can make them in the microwave, in a pot of boiling water, on the grill, in a toaster oven, and in a grill pan. My personal preference is the latter, but if the microwave is all you can manage, I will not hold it against you. The hot dog is a forgiving thing.
You can shower it with accoutrements, and if you were so inclined, you could make a different kind of hot dog every night for a week and never get bored.
On Monday, for example, you might smother it with tzatziki, red onion, and feta; Tuesday may lead you down the garden path toward old friends ketchup and mustard; Wednesday might be the night you opt for kimchi, spicy mayo, and scallions. Thursday might be your chili dog night, and Friday could be your breakfast-for-dinner moment, with a fried egg, some bacon, and a nice, tangy hot sauce.
Or you can dress it down, and stand in your kitchen in your underwear chomping on a single, solitary hot dog.
It can be a midnight snack or a meal; it can be eaten hot or cold. It is a magical vessel with which you can do as little or as much as you like, and you will never spend more than a few dollars on it. It is comforting, like a warm bath.
You can find it at any grocery store in America, and you already know what it's going to taste like — I'm willing to bet what's left of my 401k that you're thinking about eating one at this very moment — so it will never surprise you. But it will delight you.
When I mentioned that I was writing this blog, Kate Taylor, my colleague on the retail team, raised an important point. "Much like Mitt Romney, I might say hot dogs are my favorite meat," she told me. "My only disagreement with hot dogs as the best [quarantine] food is that hot dogs are best eaten outside."
Kate is not wrong. Hot dogs are best eaten outside, in someone's backyard in July, wearing jean shorts and buzzed on a beverage or three. But because we can't do that at present, hot dogs also shoulder yet another responsibility: they are an escape, a pleasant reminder of what once was, and what will be again, someday.
Go ahead, eat a hot dog today. I promise you won't regret it.