Quick Bite, Lasting Impression
For many of us who can be so laser-focused on delicious, quality, creative food, there’s still a basic craving for simple everyday American junk food. This craving often presents itself after a nice vacation where you’ve dined on lobster, foie gras, risotto, creme brulee or whatever wonderful pleasures you’ve decided to partake in.
Recently, what I thought was just my primal need for some run-of-the-mill fried fast-food turned out to be the discovery of a fantastic hotdog chain.
We were at the Punta Cana airport in the Dominican Republic, waiting to board the plane back to the U.S. I surveyed my options at the food court carefully. Cinnabon, Burger King and a few other standard airport vendors stood alongside a pre-made sushi shop and a Sbarro Pizza counter. As much as I love sushi, the open-air food court of a small tropical island airport sounded like one of the worst places to order it. Now, the thought of pizza….that was enticing. You know, typical American fare in other countries is never quite like you hope it will be. We had ordered pizza through room service at our resort late one night and the cardboard crust and barely-there toppings just didn’t satisfy my taste buds.
I headed to the pizza counter and browsed down the glass-encased warmers to find absolutely nothing that looked even slightly appetizing. Maybe pizza is bad all-around in the DR, even from a franchise.
So I headed back across the food court to a small little kitchen with the sign “Nathan’s Famous” hanging above. There was a short menu and pictures of juicy hotdogs perfectly dressed and crispy crinkle fries smothered in cheese. At least cheese fries appealed to me. Even if they were bad, how bad can nacho cheese and bacon bits taste?!
I settled on an order of corndog bites and chicken strips to go with the cheese fries. If nothing else I was gonna get a good helping of good old-fashioned American deep-fried grease. But my pina colada and seafood-soaked tastebuds found much, much more.
The little mini-corndogs were very small about two-thirds the size of most that I’ve tried. But my goodness, did they pack a flavor punch like no other! One little nugget of crispy cornmeal wrapped around that wiener chunk filled my mouth with juicy, wonderful, sweet goodness. That tiny bite contained all the moist, flavorful perfection of a ball park frank paired with the crispy, slightly sweet and perfectly proportioned coating. Oh wow! Now this was good eats!!
After devouring 5 or 6 of the little pups, I turned to the small square paper basket overflowing with crinkle fries and fatty toppings. Despite being covered in that runny yellow cheese, these crinkles still maintained just enough crispness. They were full, providing adequate potato in each bite and held the cheesy toppings and salty bacon without falter.
This was fast-food heaven!
The chicken strips were good, but I couldn’t stop eating the perfection of the mini-corndogs, trading off with a bite of the cheesy fries in between. It’s kind of sad to say, but I think it was my most satisfying meal of the trip! Don’t get me wrong, we had some wonderful lobster and seafood grilled beachfront and a few nice steaks. But this really hit the spot! And sometimes, when your mood is right, even a little greasy corndog dipped in brown mustard and just a touch of ketchup can be The Perfect Bite!