Street Food & Mean Streets. Update on LA's Bacon-Wrapped Hot Dog. No Street Snack for Old Men.
Public Enemy in a Bun.
Vending a few franks from a shiny, happy cart on the street or in a park may seem to be one of the safer, more innocuous, even wholesome, ways to scratch out a living. I would go as far as describing this trade as uniquely American in the idealized Norman Rockwell tradition. The man under the umbrella sporting a paper hat while he fills fluffy buns with snappy sausages and then hands one to a smiling little boy. It’s as American as the Patriot Act.
This scene is suddenly set ablaze when bacon is introduced to the equation. The strip of pork belly snuggly strangles the wiener like Javier Bardem on a sheriff's deputy. Now, add the occasional undocumented entrepreneurs who sell the illicit bacon-wrapped wares that have been outlawed by local Los Angeles health officials, and toss in law enforcement who are looking to make an example out of these pig-on-pig vendors, then, finally, for good measure, throw in a few gang members looking to make an extra buck by extorting a street “tax” from the hapless bacon-dog sellers and you have a recipe for a danger dog in more ways than one. (And I thought selling cannoli to the Corleone family was a risky transaction.)
Daniel Hernandez, a reporter for the LA Weekly, interviewed me a while back about the infamous weiner and has put together a thorough and compelling piece about the bacon-wrapped hot dog, its allure as well as perils, both in its consumption and distribution.
This is most definitely not your daddy's hot dog.