The Mexicanization of the Hot Dog

In Houston, as in Chicago, Los Angeles and Denver, Mexican-style hot dogs have been increasing in popularity. But when the mainstream hot dog chain James Coney Island introduced a Sonoran hot dog last year, you could feel the seismic shift as the tectonic plates of German and Mexican culture banged up against each other.

The frankfurter with mustard was enough for our German forefathers - okay, maybe a little sauerkraut. The hot dog with chile con carne called a "Coney Island" was an early compromise with the reality of biculturalism. But chili con carne wasn't really Mexican; it was Tex-Mex. In those days, tamales were jokingly called "Mexican hot dogs."

In a New York Times article by John T. Edge on the Mexicanization of the American hot dog last August, Mexican-Americans were quoted deriding the American ketchup and mustard dog as boring. They swore allegiance to a south-of-the-border version of the hot dog made with frankfurters wrapped in bacon and topped with guacamole, refried beans and whatever else you can find on the salsa bar. It sounds deliciously un-American.

I saw a couple of Mexican hot dog sellers at the Airline flea markets. Please keep me posted on taco trucks, hot dog stands, and street vendors with interesting variations.

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