Barbeque. Just hearing that word conjures up different geograhical locations to people. Some think "Texas" while for some it's the state of North Carolina, Mississippi or Alabama but it's usuallly a 'suthern state. Catfish? I think of Mississippi. Crawfish? Well that would be the great state of humidity..er ..Louisiana.
Steaks? How about Texas or Wyoming? For me, Illinois is the home of brain sandwiches, while Wyoming is the Buffalo burgers served at a little drive in on the edge of Jackson Hole. California brings to mind vegetables, fresh and plentiful. Yep, some states just have their own recognition factor when it's food related.
How about hot dogs? Does a certain state leap to the forefront of that brain? Maybe the term "Hillbilly Hot Dogs" clears it up a bit for you? The state of my birth proudly claims the hotdog as it's culinary cuisine.
A nice glass of burgundy, a lace edged linen napkin and some fine bone china, the table is set. The engraved place cards displayed.
The real scene? A quick stop at a "Quik Stop", a 7-Eleven, or a grocery store to pick up a couple of chili dogs with cole slaw, mustard, and onion and a Coke. Back into your car, one hand balancing the sloppy hot dog, mustard, chili and slaw splattering the front of your shirt as you continue on your way.
There are hotdog joints that specialize in the Hillbilly hot dog. In my opinion, the best hot dogs aren't boiled but simmered till crisp in a bath of hot oil. The buns are fresh and steamed, the chili sweet and beanless and the cole slaw, a tangy light yellow from the mustard in the dressing and with a bit of sugar.
To properly dress the hotdog, a certain order is maintained. It goes something like this. Hot dog, bun, mustard, chili, diced onion and cole slaw.
My mouth waters at the thought of a good Hillbilly hot dog and Nathans' on the boardwalk has nothin on the hotdogs served in West By God Virginia.
My trips to WV were planned to arrive on Friday. Saturday, we were up early and on our way to the Big R., a grocery store that served the Hillbilly hotdogs on Friday and Saturday. We took our place in line and waited our turn. Some of the customers were ordering 10 or more hotdogs. A cardboard tray from the bottom of a case of canned Cokes was used as a tray/carrier for the large orders. The smell of the homemade chili sauce saturated the air and was the first thing that reached the olfactories when you entered the store. We looked forward to this store visit on the many miles and hours it took to drive to WV from southern Louisiana.
The chili and the slaw are "kept' secrets at most of the places that make hotdogs their specialty. Ft. Knox might have the secrets of the sauce and slaw protected in their vaults. The shop owners just smile when asked for their recipes by out of state visitors. We, the daughter and I, know not to ask.
There is a blog site on the web devoted to the hotdogs in WV. WV Hotdog Blog Site This blogger travels around the state sampling the hotdogs. He gives his opinion on the best places to indulge your craving for this mountain state's favored food. As I cruised through his blog, I recognized some of the places I have enjoyed a 'dog or two'.
Tonight the menu consisted of Hillbilly hotdogs. Homemade sauce, fresh cole slaw from a head of cabbage purchased today, steamed buns and fried weiners and it was on!
Hopefully this coming spring, I can make a trip back to West By God Virginia (we have to say it that way or else everyone thinks we are saying we are from "Virginia"). I'll head for a little spot in Ravenswood that still sells some sloppy juicy Hillbilly hotdogs. The last time I was in WV, I stopped by and treated the family to some WV goodness. Some days are just chocked full of homesickness for family and hotdogs!