Friday Photo: Midstate hot dogs recall Chilean street food

Santiago, Chile, 2011

An April 18 article in The Patriot-News profiled the mid-state’s zany hot dogs, just in time for warmer weather.   Referencing local hot dog varieties such as the gyro dog from DK Dogs, Harrisburg, with tzatziki sauce, feta cheese, tomatoes, and onions ($3.75); or the chihuahua dog from Dewz Dogz, Wormleysburg, with cheese, house chili, guacamole, salsa, and sour cream ($3.99), author Julia Hatmaker writes, “It’s what’s on [hot dogs] that counts. While one can’t go wrong with the usual mustard and relish toppings, sometimes you want something a little extraordinary.”

Chileans couldn’t agree more.  The photo above, taken in the capital city of Santiago, is of a stand featuring nothing but hot dogs.  Oh-so-naive, I had assumed that hot dogs only came two ways, 1) with a trio of mustard, ketchup, and relish, or 2) burnt.

Chile set me straight.  Hot dogs with avocado and mayonnaise (completos)?  No problem!  Hot dogs with sauerkraut? Why not?  An italiano, with tomato, mayonnaise, and avocado?  Why would you even ask?  And if the hot dogs at the stand in this photo didn’t suit you, you could visit the stand next door, or the seemingly-identical twenty other stands that lined this pedestrian street next to the Plaza de Armas, Santiago’s main square.  (Variety is the spice of life.)

What is remarkable about hot dogs is that they are portable as well as versatile.  Even when hot dogs are eaten over a paper plate at a picnic, they spend more time in your hands than out of them.  For Chileans, hot dogs are meal food, snack food, and night clubbing food.  I saw students eating them on street corners, parents feeding them to their children, grandparents buying one and an empanada to split.  In Chile, at least according to the article “A history of the completo,” hot dogs aren’t necessarily a cop-out meal — they are a labor of love.

I often don’t take hot dogs seriously, but after returning to America, the country did inspire me to do my first central PA hot dog review, profiling the deep-fried hot dogs from Arooga’s Grille House and Sports Bar. 

Chile’s hot dogs taught me the validity of traditions — especially of those that I do not understand.

Chilean youth eating hot dogs, 2011
Chilean youth eating hot dogs, 2011

2 thoughts on “Friday Photo: Midstate hot dogs recall Chilean street food

  1. RogueAnthropologist April 21, 2012 — 3:35 pm

    I’ll admit that even as a vegetarian, hot dog restaurants tempt me. In my meat-eating childhood, I was more inclined to hot dogs than hamburgers, so the possibility of trying them all dressed up in different clothes is intriguing!

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