It’s been a long time coming, but finally I get to use a Prefab Sprout song as the title to one of my blog posts. Most of you will have no idea how much this excites me, and many of you will have no idea of who or what Prefab Sprout is.
I’ve already alluded to the band in an earlier post – Easter Parade – and their first album, but the album from which this ditty is culled is their third, ‘From Langley Park to Memphis’. Having taken a very definite step in the direction of pop music with this album [which got to Number 5 in the UK albums chart], the band garnered a whole new gang of fans and the album itself gave forth two successful singles in ‘Cars and Girls’ and ‘The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll’. With a video featuring a frog waiter, a reluctant diver and human-sized hot dogs, this was probably not the band’s finest hour. Frontman Paddy McAloon has long been regarded as one of the finest songwriters of our time, but never looked quite as embarrassed and uncomfortable as he did while appearing on Top of the Pops, miming the lyrics “Hot dog, jumping frog, Albquerque…”.
So, how does this song fit in with food? The clue lies in those groundbreaking lyrics above. Yes, laydeez and jennulmen, this post is dedicated to a city in the State of New Mexico. Okay, it’s not really…
It is highly likely, yet unconfirmed, that the hot dog originated in Frankfurt, Germany in the thirteenth century, where pork sausages were served in a bun in a not dissimilar manner to that which we are accustomed. Then again, they may have been invented in Vienna, Austria, but we’ll probably never know for certain. What we do know is that sometime around 1870, a German immigrant named Charles Feltman began selling sausages in rolls on Coney Island in New York, and in 1893 the association with baseball began. Now, I know absolutely nothing about baseball, but every time a game is featured in a movie or TV show, so too are hot dogs, and in my continuing endeavour to sample all things American without actually setting foot on US soil, I had a bash at creating something vaguely resemblant of a real ‘dog’.
Toward the end of June, I travelled across to the city of Galway to attend [and photograph] a concert by the band Chic. I’ve always been a fan of their work, but had no idea that Messrs Rodgers and Edwards were so prolific as songwriters and producers for other mainstream acts in the 1980s and 1990s. They’ve written/produced for Diana Ross, Sister Sledge, David Bowie, Duran Duran and Madonna, amongst others and the evening was a celebration of this remarkable musical heritage. The Sybarette has little interest in live music, so I went with a fellow photographer friend and one of my favourite people in the world; the delightful and delicious ‘Marlene’ [she'll know exactly who she is when she reads this], whose husband looked after my better half. Great, great night. Loads of pints and dancing, but no gig is complete for me without partaking of whatever scurvious scran is on offer on the sidelines. In this instance, there was plenty on offer and none of it of dubious quality. The Twelve Hotel was selling hot dogs at their stand and it was one of these that gave me the idea to get all ‘Mercan in the kitchen when I returned to Dublin. It was really good and when I asked as to the origin of the beautifully smoked sausage, the familiar name of McGeough’s from Oughterard, was mentioned. As we were heading out to Roundstone the next day, I made a mental note to stop off and pick some up for my experiment.
Fast-forward to a week later and the plan came together nicely. Very nicely indeed. As we don’t have a huge hot dog culture here, the selection of buns was somewhat limited, so I went with the safe option and chose a six pack of a well-known brand. Next up, I sautéed some finely sliced onions until soft and golden, then went to work on some homemade coleslaw.
For this, I grated two large carrots and finely chopped half a head of white cabbage. I then added some Greek style natural yogurt [I'd imagine strawberry flavoured yogurt would be horrible in this situation], salt and pepper and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Stir it all together and leave in the fridge if not using immediately. It’s worth making your slaw as close to hot dog serving time as possible – you’ll retain the crunch of both vegetables and the yogurt won’t take on that ‘Geordie Shore’ fake tan hue.
The sausages were cooked on the trusty old George Forman electric grill, although had the weather been better, I’d have barbecued them. And then it was time to throw everything together. I don’t bother with mustard and ketchup, preferring to let the onions and coleslaw complement the smokey sausage, and I didn’t grill/toast the buns.
They were very, very good indeed, but were they authentic? The honest answer is I don’t know, not having yet had the pleasure of the ‘real thing’, but I plan to take my tastebuds on tour early next year, so perhaps I’ll revisit the topic again.