leave your inhibitions at the door
Do you know how many places in the US has a food item (sometimes more than one) that they’re known for? How, while they can’t lay claim to be being the only ones making it, they can rightfully say they make one of the best versions of it?
Boston has baked beans, New York has thin crust pizza and bagels, Philadelphia has steak sandwiches and San Francisco has – amongst other things – sourdough bread. All of these things are available elsewhere, but just not as good.
My buddy Miguel, a serious foodie in his own right, came for a visit and asked what Detroit’s culinary claim to fame was. The only consensus item is “The Coney” – a hot dog topped with meat sauce (often chili), onions and mustard.
Miguel and I had a little chuckle, because everyone knows THE definitive hot dog is the Chicago Style Hot Dog. Since the Detroit area has had a lot of struggles – decades of blight, the Detroit Lions, and now the Flint Water Crisis – there was no sense piling on. At least they have the decency to not put ketchup on things.
Actually, a serious argument could be made for Middle Eastern food. The area, especially the town of Dearborn, has the largest number of people of Arabic descent out side of, well, the Middle East. Unfortunately, it may take some time for folks in Midwestern ‘Murica to be comfortable with bragging about anything Arabic.
A couple months ago, I went to the auto show in Detroit with mini-me. I knew food in and around the convention center would suck, so we decided to hit up Lafayette Coney Island, right in the heart of downtown. Interestingly, we had a choice to make as Lafayette is right next door to American Coney Island.
Both have their proponents, but ACI was cleaner and more updated while Lafayette was definitely more “rougher around the edges.” When in doubt, the dump wins….
For full effect, we sat at the counter.
An older, grizzled, Greek guy took our order and yelled across the room to the guy at the grill.
I didn’t hear or see any kind of acknowledgement from the guy at the grill, so I wasn’t sure we’d be eating any time soon. But, lo and behold out came our order – a few Coneys and some chili cheese fries.
Yes, it’s a heart attack on a platter, but definitely worth trying at least once. I like the flavors of each of the components but found the sheer volume of the meat sauce overpowered everything else. Plus it makes for a whole messy affair.
I’d eat them again but, if there’s a choice, the Chicago Hot Dog wins out. Easily.
What food is your town famous for? What’s your favorite kind of hot dog?