I was going to pen a piece tonight about how little I understand the US system of personal banking, given that everything I’ve ever learned about che
queck books seems to count for nothing in this country. But after I was politely informed by a couple of people on Saturday night that I was being a little bit too anti-American, I thought I’d focus on one of the (many) things that America does better than any other place on Earth – hotdogs.
(Admittedly it’s not brotherhood or world peace, but it’s a start, alright?)
Given that I am now an utterly domesticated Brit Out Of Water, I had to get some keys cut at lunchtime, necessitating a lengthy trip across the city today after the local key emporium informed me that they couldn’t cut the particular type I needed. Obviously I’m still at the stage where wandering the streets of New York is both enjoyable and a necessary by-product of my geographical incompetence, and as such, any walk above – say – five minutes, tends to develop into a forty five minute hike. And so it was today, with shortcuts turning into Sir Ranulph Fiennes-type expeditions. Pretty impressive, given Manhattan’s grid system.
But as one abortive turn of a corner led to another, I suddenly found myself face-to-face with Papaya King. Admittedly its name doesn’t lead you to think immediately of hot dogs, but it’s the thing they sell themselves on more than anything. Indeed, Papaya King’s tagline reads “Tastier Than Filet Mignon”. Quite a claim.
While I can’t say the hot dogs necessarily compare with the finest produce from America’s steakhouses, there’s something impossibly good about these things. The bun is slightly toasted, and the sausage itself has a crispy grilled exterior which gives way under pressure from your teeth with an extremely satisfying pop. And the meat is juicy and tasty enough that the whole thing is generally gone in less than half a minute. Although only when you’re really slowly savouring every mouthful.
You can get hotdogs everywhere in New York – just look for the word ‘papaya’ and you’re in the right place. Papaya Place, Papaya Dog, Papaya Heaven, Papaya Jack, and Gray’s Papaya are just some of the hundreds of hot dog headquarters, with the last one (pictured above) even appearing in a frankly laughable (for all the wrong reasons) Matthew Perry and Salma Hayek movie vehicle. Apparently you can buy papaya juice at these places. Personally, I still have my doubts.
Obviously I had to have a hotdog, purely for research purposes you understand. Rumours that I had two (just in case I didn’t make it back to the office before nightfall) are completely unsubstantiated.