Last night I made a special trip to a new 14th Street eatery that recently opened and which serves a cuisine I love: Chicago style hot dogs.
Chidogo's, like Chicago eateries in general, is big on reconstituted foods. Reconstitution is a process whereby an all natural food is absolutely shredded into atomic particles, further pulverized into quarks and Higgins bosons, then injected with dark matter and lots of salt and MSG, and magically reformed in a convenient, non-biodegradable form. Cheese Whiz, Kraft "Singles," Vienna Sausages, SPAM, the hydrogen bomb, Nancy Pelosi's face and Dick Cheney's soul--these are all examples of "reconstitution."
At Chidogo's, you can get reconstituted meat in a tube (the Chicago hot dog) or reconstituted meat in fragments and liquefied (Italian beef sandwiches). You can also get fries, which are reconstituted potatoes. You can get reconstituted cheese on everything, especially if you are looking to experience what the folks in the spa business call "cleansings," but what common folk call "the trots."
Chidogo's is basically a big F-U to pussy food purists such as Jonathan Safran Foer, Michael Pollan, and indeed Upton Sinclair, and indeed all those who use pussy words like "indeed." God put animals and their lactations on this earth to be pulverized and scientifically reformed into bright pink and yellow food-like substances that bacteria find disgusting, but that taste good to us, OK? Besides, where else can you get the pureed tits, lips and assholes that might well be essential parts of our diets?
I lived in Chicago (incidentally, narrowly beaten out by Houston for the title of "America's Fattest City") for a decade, and wallowed in its rivers of Vienna Beef, its Hormel "Pigs in Blankets," its buns soaked in the boiled and spiced fat of dead animals.
Because of this, I consider myself something of an expert on immoral foods, and I came into my Chidogo's eating adventure with the proper education.
I was appropriately greeted at the door with a sullen glance from the five "Vienna Beef" clad employees. I was, appropriately, not greeted or hit with the annoyingly friendly, "Can I take your order?" I mumbled my order, a simple Chicago Dog, and was three times asked if I wanted cheese.
This was all by-the-book Chicago eatery demeanor. The most important element of the placing of the order was in what was not said. I was not asked what I wanted on the dog.
Foremost, ketchup was not present, as far as I was aware. Just for your information--asking a Chicago hot dog proprietor to put ketchup on your dog is the equivalent of asking him or her to micterate on your dog. That is, you can do it yourself if you're that sick and disgusting, but don't ask him to do it for you.
I brought the dog home and cracked open the appropriate accompanying beverage, shown below:
At first glance, I was pleased. The dog looked like this:
I am pleased to report that the dog included and excluded the right toppings. On the whole, the dog ranks among the typical fare of Chicago: damp and moist with mustard and the typical lube, garnished with spicy peppers, the traditional long-cut pickle slice, and onion niblets sprinkled generously but lovingly. However, it lacks the certain je ne sais quoi, loosely translated in this case as "celery salt," which is the secret ingredient in the very best Chicago hot dogs.
All in all, Chidogo's is a welcome addition to the rapidly growing bowel loosening food corridor at the intersection of 14th and U Street, a group of eateries which includes JJ's Cheesteaks, Yum's Takeout, combination Taco Bell-KFC, and McDonald's.