mmmm.. so following along my roadside america book, i visited “new york system” in providence, RI… I walked about 2 miles from tina’s theatre (where I followed her for the whole day, doing acting classes and such — that’s a whole other story, which maybe i’ll tell too) to this hot dog joint.. i walk in, it’s like 2pm and it’s empty, except for the two people that work there..
so.. according to the book, the thing to get here is the “wiener”… so i do. arriving about 23 seconds after you order it, the “wiener” comes on a plain brown plastic plate.. sitting in a untoasted white bun, the reddish hued wiener is smothered in raw onions, mustard, and some sort of mysterious beef sauce. I asked the dude what the sauce was and he told me it was a closely guarded secret.
Hmm… it was dangerously easy to down this hot dog, and I ended up eating three, having gotten the hint from the next patron who sat next to me (who ordered three). I had a nice conversation with Charlie, the dude behind the counter about the history of new york system and Charlie’s retirement plans in hawaii. New York System was founded in the 1920s by this greek dude Gustav Papas… He liked New York, but didn’t like the hubub, so he found a new home in Providence, RI, where he founded the original “New York System” on Smith Street (the one that I went to — which, incidentally, wasn’t the one mentioned in the Roadfood book that julia gave me). Anyway… the Papas family has owned and run this New York System on Smith street the whole time, but there are other New York Systems that are not run by the Papas family. The other New York Systems do not have the secret recipe of the mysterious beef sauce.
Anyway… the hot dog was.. pretty good, but then again, I love hot dogs and greasy diner food. The raw onions and the beef sauce was an odd combination — the onions were tart and sweet, and the beef sauce was slightly tangy. The hot dog itself was kind of mushy — it didn’t really have the snap of a fully cased hot dog, so I suspect that it was either caseless or had some sort of really thin case. The bun was wonder-bread soft and mushy and kind of looked like a slice of bread rather than a roll. I didn’t feel sick or anything afterwards, so that’s a good sign.
I’ve since left Providence, and now I’m in NYC — where I’m sure to find more delicious hot dogs… I’m meeting Audris and Donna tonight in the upper west side, so a visit to Gray’s Papaya is definitely on the horizon…