Published on January 16th, 2010 | by Mark Chesnut
The Joys of the Colombian Hot Dog
A hot dog is not always just a hot dog. In Colombia, it’s more like a meal, thanks to the great variety of meats and toppings available. I first discovered this when I was visiting Medellín a few years ago and sampled one of these creations as a late-night meal after going to a club.
Now, in Cartagena, I’m finding that the Colombian hot dog — sometimes called perro caliente (literally, “hot dog”) or salchicha (“sausage”) is a filling, fast and relatively inexpensive meal when I’m in a rush. Not to say that it’s good for my cholesterol, of course.
The Colombian hot dog is a symphony of flavors and textures; piled into an oversized bun is one of a variety of mixed meats (which, as in the United States, it’s probably better not to know too much about), sliced open and filled with mozzarella cheese, ketchup, onions, mayonnaise, potato sticks and pineapple juice. The softness of the roll, the gooeyness of the mozzarella, the crunchiness of the potato sticks and the sweetness of the pineapple juice, blended with the warmth of the hot dog itself, create a stimulating sensation for the senses.
Add to that the street-cooked arepas — grilled cornmeal cakes stuffed with mozzarella cheese and buttered on top — and you’ve got two excellent options what is basically a meal in itself. Just don’t tell my doctor what I’ve eaten.