Gray's Papaya: Hot Dogs & Pineapple Juice
A pairing for hot dogs that doesn't involve beer
Gray's Papaya. How many late-night stops have I made? How many blocks out of my way have I walked? How many not-so-crazy justifications have I come up with? (Well the pens at the Citibank on 72nd always work and if I'm already there...) I try not to make sweeping generalizations when it comes to food, but I defy you to locate a better hot dog in the borough of Manhattan.
And as if I hadn't been eating them for decades, last week I figured something out. Don't laugh. While papaya juice is delicious and is said to help break down the tube steak(s) in your gut, it lacks the acidity necessary to do the same job on the palate. Therefore I sweepingly generalize that fresh, ice-cold 100% pineapple juice is the best possible pairing for a snappy-cased, smoky Kosher beef sausage. Its sweet-tart flavor cuts the richness of the frank and highlights its subtle spices, melts the soft white bun into tasty oblivion, mellows the sharpness of the kraut and complements the spicy mustard. Germans usually mellow their kraut anyway using apple juice or cider, why not go Hawaiian with it?
Now this isn't to say that Germany should abandon its whole Reinheitsgebot deal and split up the centuries-old marriage of sausage and beer. Beer still goes with sausage, that goes without saying. But I can definitely imagine simmering brats in pineapple juice, then tossing them on the grill for a crazy delicious sweet-charred crunch. Can't you? Am I descending into almost-February "wintery mix madness" with this whole tropical fantasy thing? Did I originally type "fantasty?" I did.
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