“Wienies from around the world,” that’s what we fondly christened the dish back in 1984. I was living in Kenmore Square in Boston; it was a balmy Sunday night; and I had a dozen rather eclectic friends coming over to comment, cheer, and make merry as we watched the Summer Games of the XXIII Olympiad. My apartment was rather tiny with a modest galley kitchen so my preparation had to be well thought-out and executed or else I would’ve met anarchy of sorts … long before we even gathered to eat dinner.
After contemplating countless possible menus, I opted for my own variation of an American classic, one that surely would be savored but would suggest high camp and my trademark whimsy. I took classic “beans & franks” and added twists, customizing it for the Olympics and my own eccentric brand of “flavor!”
As I marketed, I had an epiphany: why not assemble hot dogs and sausages from different countries to create an Olympic-worthy international meal. Little did I realize that, in doing so, I would ultimately add two hours to my shopping time as I had to go to three different grocery stores! Oh, how I adore making the simple more complicated!
However, by 5:00PM, I was ready to commence the prep work and assembly:
I sautéed Polish kielbasa, Italian Summer sausages, spicy Thai sausages, Bavarian Bratwurst, ever-so-kosher Hebrew National Franks, and a traditional & local favorite, Fenway Franks! Slicing & mixing them, I finally arranged them in the bottom of a huge lasagna pan, trying not to be too anal in my placement.
I then took several large cans of Boston baked beans (“when in Rome …”) and added sautéed Vidalia onions, fresh chervil, and diced jalapenos, spooning the mixture on top of the meats to create a second layer.
Taking a pound of country slab bacon, I fried it, chopped it into bits, and sprinkled it over the beans. Remember, my friends, it WAS 1984 and bacon was yet to become the enemy!
I finished off my preparation by drizzling honey over the bacon, the dish now ready for “simple insertion” into my small oven for baking.
(“Insertion” and “aperture” were my two favorite words that year! They were often in heavy rotation.)
Later that evening, my buddies came over; we tasted several merlots (several indeed); and cheered indeed as history was being made at the Los Angeles Summer games. At that very point at which we started to “become starch-depleted” (read: “buzzed!”), I announced to all that dinner was awaiting spooning and consumption: “In honor of the occasion, tonight we will be dining on the slightly elegant wienies from around the world!”
Of course, everyone guffawed and chuckled. I was far too reserved and proper to ever serve such a creation! I smiled because I knew that I had branded the dish my very own (with my own styling) and they would soon discover I wasn’t joking.
Naturally, the meal was a huge hit. I say this not out of cockiness, but rather: if it hadn’t been, I would never have posted about it!
A quarter-century has passed and I have now made the dish a dozen times, usually for a campy, relatively low-brow fête of sorts. It never fails! People laugh and then enjoy it, rather satisfied, as it can be ever so comforting and laden with all-things-bad! There was one notable exception, however.
The anti-Christ was once appalled at the mere suggestion of this offering, requesting a cassoulet instead. His pretention amused and annoyed me for, in so many ways, it is basically the same thing. I might’ve responded to his insistence at the time by making ironic use of “aperture” … but I am certain I was thinking “a**hole”!
Little did I know that our personal apocalypse would start thus, and in the kitchen even. He was foolish this way: that was where, in so many ways, I kept all of my artillery and maintained the upper hand!