Fantastical and phallic
I hate hotdogs. I hate those tinned rubber tubes Princes make; I hate the slimey onion-covered meat-smash travesties you get at fairs; I hate currywurst (it's just a sausage with curry powder!); and I even hate the charred Lincolnshires people think are vital to a rainy British barbecue.
And the bread's always awful. It either falls apart the moment moisture hits it, or it's so doughy a builder could use it to stick bricks together.
But then I was sat at my desk yesterday when a colleague dropped Scout London on my desk. On the front was a sausage/bap combo straight from the fires of hell. It was like the Barbie of hot dogs - all plastic, shiny and brightly coloured (and no genitals either). With complete disinterest I started flicking the pages, until I came across the top ten dogs in London feature.
They all looked disgusting, especially the one apparently balanced on a latex glove. They looked like the kind of food photography you get outside the worst restaurants in China Town - all faded and warped by the sun. Even the Hawksmoor chilli cheese dog, made by one of the finest steak restaurants in London, looked like a still from Embarrassing Bodies.
So it was to my great surprise that I found myself wondering past Old Street roundabout towards Big Apple Hot Dog's stand, number four in the list. The photo was as plain as could be – a dull red sausage in a white bap. Sat next to Hawkmoor's gooey rash it looked practically puritan. It turned out to be everything but.
Big Apple has a big and shiny stand with branded fencing and a big umbrella. Unfortunately the effect is rather ruined by the dirty Ford Mondeo parked up behind it, where the ingredients are kept. We were greeted by a typically cheeky East London chap who was almost dizzy with excitement at the opportunity to serve such good sausages, particularly ones called "Massive Poles". And who can blame him.
As our server so happily implied, the Massive Pole is indeed phallic, but more to the point it's a Polish sausage that's around 94% pork, and I can assure you that it's a very different kind of sausage to anything you might get served at you mate's barbecue in his concrete backgarden. Despite its boring presentation in Scout London, I opted for the sweaty onions and as much mustard and ketchup as I could fit on without putting my clothes at risk. And it suddenly looked like something I wanted to eat.
The meat was so dense it was like biting into an apple – and the sound was almost the same, with a physical snap as I broke through the skin. The sausage was so big and crescent shaped that when I bit into one end, the other end flicked up and hit me in the face, leaving me with ketchup as far north as the bridge of my nose. They don't give you serviettes either, so the clothes I had sworn to protect were coated in bright yellow and red by the end, and every time I breathed I could smell the mustard on my nose.
Still worth it, still brilliant, and still better than any other dog I've seen or eaten. But then as far as I'm concerned, I've only tried one real one. But that's going to change.
Track down the stand just beyond the Fire Station near exit 2 of Old Street Tube.