The love of hot dogs – memories and all the feels

An unexpected silver lining of this Covid-19 Work-from-home dilemma is that I get to prepare lunch each day.  Stocking my fridge and pantry with veggies and staples, envisioning a yummy and healthy creation, chopping vegetables, and cooking have become my work at home self care tool. It serves as a mental break in between work meetings, client sessions, and the seemingly endless paperwork. And today, I realize that making food also helps fills a hole in my heart. A longing for someone, for something that is familiar, and soothing.

I love(d) hot dogs. When I switched to a vegetarian diet many many years ago, I was doing really well until I went to a barbecue with some friends. The smell of grilled hot dogs was simply impossible to resist. I relapsed on not just one, but at least half a dozen of hot dogs.  A funny story that I told my then co-workers at the residential treatment program. And for one of my birthdays they decided to surprise me with hotdogs ( mine was vegetarian and regular meat one for everyone else) instead of cake. This group of co-workers was a fun, quirky and wonderful to work with.

Yet today I suddenly realize something deeper. Silver lining number 2 of working from home : you get more time and space to be introspective about everything you do. I have switched to a vegan diet now and have bought some vegan hot dog over the weekend. Because, why not? I eat pretty healthy most days but still allow myself the occasional yum.  Balance is key, I think.

So, I thought about the hot dogs I have in the fridge and an image, the smell of a dish came to my senses. A plate with pan fried hot dogs seasoned with soy sauce. The pan fried hot dogs took on a little crispy texture, often a little burnt on the skin, and tainted the dark color of soy sauce. They just lie down side by side on the plate, waiting for their destiny. 

My mom was not a very good cook. I guess it is obvious when one of the dish she regularly made is pan fried whole hot dogs from the package seasoned with soy sauce. But oddly, that was one of my childhood favorite. Maybe because the dishes that she actually tried to make never really tasted right. ( Sorry, no offense, mom). I loved the consistency of the taste and salty favor of the hot dog. You just can’t go wrong with it. Seriously, that would be the only dish that I ate along with the steamed jasmine rice. I would call that a delicious, satisfying meal.

I remember my dad would say how the hot dog is simply junk food with no nutritional value. But you know, I was a kid, and that didn’t mean anything to me at the time. So there it was, one of my favorite childhood meal made by mom. 

It might seem like a simple, and very non-nutritious dish. But I believe it was made with love, too. I’ve learnt that we, as human beings, are always doing our best, to the best of our ability at the moment. Even to others, it might not seem that way. But I knew that my mom was doing her best to feed all of us.I believe that these hot dogs were pan fried with not just soy sauce but a whole lot of love. That’s why when I ate it, I didn’t just taste the saltiness, but felt the sweetness in my heart.

Fast forward 30+ years, I am living in my own apartment, making myself a little lunch during a work day.  Feeling ridiculously nostalgic while making a plate of stir fried Bok Choy with vegan junk (aka hot dog) and ginger. Lightly seasoned with soy sauce and I ate with steamed brown rice. It is all about balance, right. I guess throughout the years, with all the experiences in life and choices I made, I had become a slightly different version of me. Something like : Christy 2.0 ? Yet, all the things, and food, and people I had interacted with in childhood still contributed to a huge part of who I am. In essence, in spirit.

Today, I celebrate my present and honor my past. I toast to the childhood me who happily chow down many processed and junk food, and I embrace the present me who is devoted to a healthier and more holistic way of living and being. And truly, I am grateful for this life which allow me to think and feel deeply about every single little thing. This is the gift of deep feeling, you can’t help but notice the beauty in every single little thing. 

In the midst of this Covid-19 pandemic, I hope that we can all find ways to feel and share love, in big or small way. Through food or other things. Take care all.


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