Since summer is starting to wind down, it seems appropriate to write about a food so quintessentially American summertime that it just screams, in a George W Bush accent: “Amurrica!” And since I love a good challenge, and I don’t eat hot dogs, I decided to make it about hot dogs. And so, to my chagrin, I learned that my life is really just a series of episodes delineated by—yes, hot dogs.


As a child, I develop a really weird way of eating hot dogs: I peel the skin off, then eat the insides. (Somewhat aptly, I call them “hot goo.”) This is embarrassing to my parents; only in retrospect is it embarrassing to me. If I’d had a therapist, she’d probably relate it to my jealousy of my two younger brothers, who got to be boys while I was stuck doing girly shit.


Disaster strikes: “I used to slice them, so that the pieces were like little coins, but you loved them and ate them pretty fast (not sure enough chewing was going on),” my mother recalls. “One day you choked and turned red with a terrified look in your eyes.” As the story goes, my father flipped me upside-down and shook me until the hot goo fell out. “We were so relieved and vowed never again to let any of our precious children eat anything except chopped-up hot dogs,” my mother adds. Either because I find the chopped version unappetizing or was just plain scared now, I stop eating hot dogs.


In honor of the new millennium, I start eating hot dogs again—this time, without the OCD.


Lacking anything better to do with a dual degree in Spanish literature and environmental geology, I sign up for the Peace Corps. I am stationed in a small village in El Salvador. In order to get from my host family’s house to the bus, I have to shimmy through a narrow alley and step over a pig. The pig is friendly enough, but he wallows in excrement, smells like excrement and sometimes eats it. I resolve to never again eat pork.


Toward the end of my Peace Corps service, I spend a weekend at the beach, where I meet a free-roaming pig with an enormous tumor. “It’s more meat!” its owners explain, shrugging, when I ask why they don’t try to get rid of the tumor. I steel my resolve never to eat pork.


You know what’s messed up about that whole Adam and Eve thing? It’s a man who tempts me back to pork, with the irresistible aroma of bacon on a Saturday morning. Eve gave Adam an apple . She was probably just trying to get him to eat healthier.


After caving on bacon, then pulled pork sandwiches, then a tenderloin, I try my first hot dog in something like 20 years. It’s smothered in cheese and green chile (genius!), and it’s free, and I eat it while drinking beer in a dusty lot behind a boathouse. And that, my friends, is Amurrica.

And now, your quick ’n‘ dirty guide to the best hot dogs in Santa Fe:

Chicago Dog Express

600 Cerrillos Road, 984-2798


Umm…Chicago-style hot dogs. Be they beef, Polish or turkey.

Best online review:

“Not for the faint of colon, but you probably knew that already.”

Los Dogos

3985 Cerrillos Road, 455-6147


Juárez-style, bacon-wrapped street dogs.

Best online review:

“It says ‘Juarez-style’ on the truck. Not sure what that means—perhaps a front for drug trafficking and hit squads?”

Bar 221 @Tanti Luce

221 Shelby St., 988-2355


Kobe beef hot dog topped with pickled red onions and a squeeze of Dijon.

Best online review:

“The Cristal of hot dogs.”

WOW Dawgs

3530 Zafarano Drive 471-0108


More varieties than you can shake a pig tumor at, like the “Chile Cheese Fry Dawg” and the “Frito Pie Dawg.”

Best online review:

“I even liked the bright orange seats!”