A VERY EXCITING THING HAS HAPPENED.
OK, it’s only exciting to me, and the probably four people who are currently living in my area who grew up where I did. But for THOSE FOUR PEOPLE, this is the most exciting thing. THE MOST.
OK, you need a little background. And I’m not going to guarantee, even with this background, that it’s not going to be one of those things where you think, “ok, Amy, you have LOST your MIND,” but I don’t even care. DON’T EVEN.
Think about where you grew up. Even if you hated it, think about it. Just for a minute. Now think about the one food item you love and miss from your childhood more than any other. Everyone has one, I think. And it’s usually a regional thing, because if it was something you could just pick up at the grocery store and make, well, it wouldn’t be something you miss, now would it? You’d just make it for yourself whenever you were craving it. But once you move away, you can’t get that thing anymore. You might TRY to make that thing, but it’s never the same; first, you’re not a kid anymore (things are always better when you’re a kid) and second, when you try to recreate that thing, you don’t have the real materials so it’s just a sad facsimile and you’re all “efffff this isn’t right” and then you’re cranky and sadface.
I don’t know what your thing is. I didn’t grow up all over the place. I grew up in one place; I lived in one place and very seldom left one place for seventeen mostly very, very, VERY long years. But we had one regional food that I loved, still love, still dream about, still crave, and still eat my weight in, every time I go home.
Glazier’s hot dogs.
Yes. I have never once, in my entire life, said I had high-class taste in food. I know some people dream of the time they had the world’s best caviar, or maybe the time they had gelato in Italy (yes, yes yes, I dream of that time, too, the time we sampled about fifteen different flavors of fresh gelato in Rome is one of my best culinary memories in the world, plus the time we had the best pasta and bread and desserts and…well, hell, everything we ate in Rome was amazing, I can’t even pretend it wasn’t) or fancy things like that, but I dream of red hot dogs. That is most definitely not a euphemism. I SAID IT WASN’T, KEN.
Ken’s going to be scandalized (and secretly a little pleased, I can see this coming now), but these things are garlicky. I hate garlic. But I love these hot dogs. They’re spicy. And they have natural casings, so they totally snap when you bite into them, which I love. And if you eat too many of them, you get the most terrible stomachache. But you don’t even care. Because they are DELICIOUS.
They will probably kill you. Or perhaps preserve you for all time. They have a lot of preservatives in them. Here’s the ingredient list: beef and pork, nonfat dry milk, salt, spices, dextrose, flavorings, monosodium glutamate (that’s MSG, kiddos!), sodium erythorbate, and sodium nitrate. I don’t even know what those other things are. Shh, I don’t want to know. THEY ARE AMAZING.
Yes, I eat garbage. I subsist on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, chicken fingers and barbecue sauce, sugar-free popsicles, and Kashi. (I know, compared to the other things, the Kashi is kind of funny, right?) Oh, and sugar-free fruit punch. This is what I eat. Daily. I probably have rickets. I’m completely cool with this. Yes, yes, I will, and do, sometimes eat other things. And I like fancy food. I just don’t come in contact with it much, being a very poor poor person and all.
I will always be the country girl at heart, no matter where I live; this country girl’s favorite food, above all things, including fresh Italian gelato, are humble red frankfurters manufactured in Malone, New York.
BUT, you can’t just have the hot dogs. No no no. You have to have the hot dogs and the SAUCE. The hot dogs on their own are NAKED. You have to smother them in Michigan sauce.
Michigan sauce (which, despite its name, is very big in upstate New York) is (haven’t I talked about this before?) like chili, only without the beans. And it’s spicier. It’s really, really fine ground beef in a very thin hot red sauce, and you put it on your Glazier’s hot dog. (I guess it’s called other things elsewhere, like “Coney Sauce” or something, but that’s lies, let’s ignore that shit.) Then some people put onions on it (ew) and most people put one very straight line of the cheap yellow mustard (yum) and you serve them on the cheapest white rolls you can find, and they are THE MOST DELICIOUS THINGS IN THE ENTIRE DAMN WORLD. They’re best cooked on a grill until they split open just the TINIEST bit and get just the LITTLEST bit of char on them. My dad’s best at grilling them just the way I like them.
Yes. Yes, I will admit it. The one thing I dream of, when I think of the one thing I want to eat, more than anything, when people are thinking of things like, oh, I don’t know, FLANS or FOIE GRAS or something: red hot dogs on cheap white bread with hot meat sauce. None of that is a euphemism. I’M SERIOUS KEN I CAN HEAR YOU LAUGHING FROM HERE.
Someday I will meet a man; I am quite sure of this. He will have to meet the parents; Test One. If he passes this test (really, he only has to like Dad; everyone likes Mom just fine), he has to have a michigan. (That is what you call the whole concoction.) And if he likes it? Enough to want more of them? Well, that’s Test Two. He wins. He’s in the inner circle. (That one’s most definitely a euphemism. You can have that one, Ken.)
And I have a total historical CONNECTION to Michigan sauce. My great grandmother – my dad’s mom’s mom – made the most famous Michigan sauce in the area. She had a stand by the side of the road, and people came from other STATES for her michigans. The people who run Glazier’s Hot Dogs would package up hot dogs for her special (and, according to my dad, make them special for her – their hot dogs are crazy and irregular, curled all up, some of them, some shorter than others, etc., but my great-grandmother would get boxes of hot dogs that were all the same size, all smaller than normal, and all straight, so best to sit on the rolls. The company made them special for her. Fancy, no?) Yes, I come from people who sold hot dogs by the side of the road. HOWEVER, I come from people who sold THE BEST HOT DOGS IN THE WORLD by the side of the road, and apparently, if you say my grandmother’s maiden name up there in conjunction with michigans, people say, “YOU ARE RELATED TO HER!?!?!” and they REMEMBER her. (And my aunt still, some years, goes to the fair and sells Michigans like my great-grandmother used to.)
I totally just found this online. I am not even kidding. Check this out:
In the 1950’s there was a roadside stand in Chateaugay, NY called Jake’s Red Hots. This was and still is the best michigan sauce you will ever eat, problem is, there is no more Jakes. The family secret recipe is in a family members safe somewhere. I went for years craving these great red hots. Thankfully, a few years ago some of the Chateaugay “boys” started an annual golf tourney in Malone. I don’t know if Pecore is responsible for getting that family member to donate a pot of sauce for the preparty but it is surely appreciated. If you can get your hands on that recipe you could make millions.
YOU GUYS I COULD MAKE MILLIONS! I have that recipe in my HOUSE!!! (“There is no more Jakes.” Well, no, there IS no more Jakes. Or more good grammar, apparently. Correct. Don’t know if there ever WAS a Jake, honestly. But there are plenty of us, don’t even fret. We bred like bunnies, babe. Poor people don’t have much else to do but bitch about the government and reproduce. Don’t worry, the “Jakes” didn’t die out. Also, who’s “Pecore?” I don’t know a Pecore. What’s he doing with my secret recipe?)
My family has this VERY secret Michigan sauce recipe. No, seriously. It’s secret. (But it’s not in a SAFE, don’t be daft, weirdo. We can’t afford a safe.) It’s written in my mom’s cookbook in SHORTHAND. Like, from when she was a court stenographer. (Oh, did I never mention that’s what my mom did before she met my dad? Yep. My mom was the court stenographer. Fancy, right? I think that’s the coolest.) I’m not even kidding. And when I asked her for the recipe, she had to ask my grandmother (who was still alive at the time) if it was ok, because the recipe is only allowed to go to MARRIED members of the Lucy’s Football family, or something. (My grandmother apparently – and correctly – assumed I’d be an old maid forever, and also she loved me like crazy, because she was all, “of course you give my girl that recipe. Of course you do” so Mom did. I have tried to make it. It’s never as good as mom’s – and NEVER as good as my grandmother’s. My grandmother’s Michigan sauce was the stuff of legend. I wish my great-grandmother had been around when I was alive; I can only imagine hers was absolutely amazing.) And, before you ask – NO, I will not tell you what’s in it. Ground beef in a spicy thin red sauce. That’s all you’re getting out of me. Even if I DO find that magical guy someday who passes the tests and gets into the euphemistic inner circle, he doesn’t get to know what’s in the sauce. Nope. Because if he knew and then something were to happen and we were to part? Well, shit, I’d have to kill him, what a total bummer.
Other people have Michigan sauce recipes. Apparently, you can even buy (BLASPHEMY!) seasoning packets for it online. THIS IS NOT CORRECT. None of these taste like my family’s recipe. My family does two things well: my dad’s side of the family makes Michigan sauce and my mom’s mom makes legendary baked beans. (That sounds terrible: we also drink, play cards, are very loyal, and are hilariously bitter.) YES. I am from VERY HEARTY PEOPLE who eat things that are PROBABLY NOT VERY GOOD FOR US. We also cuss a lot, and distrust strangers, and may not be overly classy. HOWEVER! That is my bloodline, people. You have to work with what you’ve got in this world.
Every time I go home, I eat these things until I’m ill from them. My mom sends me home with them, and jars of her sauce, and I save them as long as I can but then I eat them and then they are gone and I am sad. Apparently I can order them online but they’re very expensive and without the sauce it’s not worth it and my sauce, as mentioned, isn’t as good. (Also, you have to make a TON of the sauce to make it worth it, and I’m only one person. Where would I store all that sauce?)
WELL. (This totally went off-topic. I’ve been writing this for hours, and now I’m wanting Michigans. Dammit.)
YESTERDAY, Dad told me that the local paper had THE MOST EXCITING NEWS. (It was probably all spelled wrong. The local paper, which, here, but you have to pay to read it and who wants to pay to read poorly-spelled garbage?, is the worst thing ever. Once they put the wrong date on the paper. Once, my uncle had an article about him in there, and they spelled his name wrong THREE DIFFERENT TIMES in the SAME ARTICLE in THREE DIFFERENT WAYS. I keep telling Mom I’d move home if she got that paper to hire me for a shit-ton of money to make it readable. I’d whip those bastards into shape, pronto. First step: a class entitled “your spellchecker and you – IT IS YOUR FRIEND.”)
“AMY!” Dad said. “Glazier’s is EXPANDING! They are going to be selling their products in ALBANY! Well, the paper spelled it Ablany, but they also called it the capital of New York, so I assumed they were talking about YOU!!!”
(Don’t sue me, Telegram, he likely made up the Ablany part. I mean, LIKELY he did. But maybe he didn’t. The typos, they boggle the MIND over there. Once, Mom met the editor of that paper at some fun run or something and I was all “WHY DIDN’T YOU YELL AT HIM ABOUT THE TYPOS” and she was like, “Um. I don’t yell at people about things. That’s a you-thing, Amy.” SIGH MOM SIGH SIGH.)
WELL NOW THIS IS EXCITING.
I could buy my hot dogs IN MY OWN DAMN GROCERY STORE.
This does, however, mean I have to perfect making the sauce. I think I will have to call upon the ghost of my grandmother and my great-grandmother for this one, because I am not…um, how shall we say…the most handy or patient with cookery? I am actually quite good at it…when I’ve got the time. But mostly I’m in a rush to get to something else so everything ends up half-assed, which is why I microwave everything.
Glazier’s, according to this very handy site I found, apparently also makes the following; I’m going to hope they don’t bother selling these things down here, because, well, ew:
Pickled sausage! Um. This looks terrible. This looks like what they sell at bars and really drunk people eat it and you think, oh. Oh, don’t do that. Please don’t do that, that’s pickled meat.
Tas-T bologna! You know this is good because you buy it by the log. By the LOG, people.
Pickled eggs! Again, anything in pickle juice that’s not pickles I find to be a huge mistake and also quite suspect.
And this, which is a strange meat product called “Picnic Loaf.” A., I don’t want to eat any meat that comes in a loaf, except for meatloaf; and B., WHAT IS PICNIC LOAF. According to the ingredients, it’s pork and beef product with pickles, peppers and cheese pieces studded throughout. I don’t…is this like olive loaf without the olives? I don’t trust meat with THINGS in it. Just get meat and PUT things on it. Come on, who’s this lazy? Also, it’s really pink. SCARY pink. It looks like a pencil eraser.
Stick to the unnaturally red hot dogs, Glazier’s.
This is a banner day at the Bender house, kiddos. MICHIGANS FOR ALL. OK, that’s a lie. MICHIGANS FOR ME. I’d share with Dumbcat but he doesn’t get people food, not even a little. I’m a good kitty mom. (FINE, sometimes I let him sniff my popsicles but he never licks them. He just makes a sour face and glares at me because they smell like citrus. He hates things that smell like citrus. He’s a weirdo.)
I’ve been totally bouncing around about this news for like a whole day. It doesn’t take much to get excited all up over here.
HAPPY FRIDAY TO YOU ALL. Enjoy your weekends!