It’s impossible to talk about street food, without acknowledging our most beloved street meat—the hot dog. From Toronto to Taiwan, variations of this encased minced “meat” can be found on street corner grills around the world.
With an impressively long history, according to the American National Hot Dog and Sausage Council (NHDSC), “Sausage is one of the oldest forms of processed food, having been mentioned in Homer’s Odyssey as far back as the 9th Century B.C.” making it one of the oldest known processed foods. And, I would argue that the very existence of a national council devoted to hot dogs and sausages is an illustration of the affection for this tubular delicacy.
Where the North American term “hot dog” in its current form came from seems to be uncertain. But, after a recent trip to Berlin, I can confirm that a German link to the links is likely. In Berlin, currywurst is the most common street meat on offer; hotdogs are cut into bite-sized pieces and topped with a delicious red curry sauce.
For Torontonians, colourful hot dog vendors have stood for years as the city’s ambassador of street cuisine. The reason for this meat monopoly is undoubtably a result of our municipal bureaucracy than our true love for this food. In 2015, city council approved changes to the street vending bylaws in an effort to encourage diversity in our street food culture. However, this hasn’t happened quite so quickly as foodies had hoped for or brick and mortar restaurants had feared, and the humble hot dog remains king of our street corners.
Image: Lucinda Brooks Photography