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Published: January 11th 2009
Such is the sordid combination of fats, sodium, nitrates and meat which make up the hot dog that it is rarely considered a delicacy. But my many travels have led me to experience this ignoble sausage in many shapes and forms. The mecca for this mysterious meat is none other than New York City. Here hot dogs are hawked at street corners ubiquitously and the advent of gourmet hot dogs have led to restaurants specifically designed for this oxymoron of the culinary arts. One famous chain in Coney Island, Nathan’s Famous, has millions of New Yorkers convinced that the best hot dog in the world comes from there. And why not? What is it that separates a good hot dog from a great one? Is the hot dog in New York so different from its predecessor in Frankfurt? The answer, not surprisingly, is no. But the world’s best hot dog does exist. It even pays homage to the supposed greatness of the Nathan’s Famous. I speak of Ed’s Coney Hot Dog, found in, of all places, Malta.
Malta is not a place that one finds oneself in by accident. It is seemingly deliberately out of the way, located about halfway between the southern shore of Sicily and the northern shore of Libya. My first visit here was designed as much for the quirkiness of the destination as for the actual merits it has to offer the visitor. It was then that I found this delectable dog, wandering around the streets in the late night of the party center of the island, a little town-within-a-town known as Paceville. I happened upon Ed’s Easy Diner and my first great hot dog was ordered, prepared and eaten. However as a young traveler, I thought I knew better than to stick to one place religiously and to try new things. Sure, this hot dog was great but there were other more exotic things than hot dogs to try. Malta, being in the center of the Mediterranean offered much seafood and it is there where I focused my culinary desires for the remainder of my time here.
Now as an experienced traveler I feel that in general there is too much to offer in this great world to draw me back to such an out-of-the-way place as Malta, a place that I explored in great detail. Subsequent trips found me in the Middle East, South America and Africa. But unbeknownst to me fate was drawing me back to this little open air diner in the middle of the Med.
In 2006 I met and fell in love with my future wife. Our amazing relationship however began to take on an unexpected and frustrating aspect. It proved quite difficult bureaucratically to find an authority to marry the two of us, she a Polish citizen and I a Canadian one. After many months of planning and failed attempts in Canada, the Czech Republic, Austria and Poland, fate opened a door for us. Malta specializes in marrying foreigners. It was no sooner than we could send them our documents that we had our wedding date. And so it came to be that the night before our wedding I treated my soon-to-be wife to a unique culinary experience, Ed’s Coney Hot Dog.
And what goes into this creation that makes it so enticing? It is sort of a blend of a hot dog and a shawarma. It is loaded full of vegetables and a bit of cheese and then grilled to perfection. The hot dog within is almost lost in the panoply of other flavours. But this experience is telling to me, travel will always challenge the way you think, and it has the ability to take you full circle to a place and experience that was all but lost, only remaining in memory. And most of all, travel excites much better when shared. That is to say that my wife loved the hot dog too.
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