Friday, April 27, 2012
Road Trip Part 10: Lucky Dogs
March 6, 2000. My friends and I were at a bar in the French Quarter when I looked at the TV and saw that Shaquille O'Neal had 50 points with the game still going on. But I was 21 and at Mardi Gras; was I really going to leave my friends and go back to the hotel to watch a Lakers game?
I sure was.
"I'm going back to the hotel to watch the rest of the game," I announced. My friends did not even question me. Just outside our hotel, on the corner of Bourbon and Toulouse, I spied a Lucky Dogs cart and grabbed myself a dog.
I watched the rest of the game, fell asleep and was awakened around 4 in the morning by my friends stumbling back in, with Lucky Dogs of their own. One of them flopped down on the bed and passed out. So I ate his Lucky Dog. I mean, he had woken me up, I was still hungry, and he obviously wasn't going to eat it. It only seemed fair.
The next morning (and most of the afternoon) they did not get out of bed. They bought Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo on pay-per-view, the only unpleasant experience I have ever had in the Crescent City. "How come you're not hung over?" Cara asked me.
"Because I came back at midnight instead of 4," I said. "And also I ate two Lucky Dogs: mine and your boyfriend's."
July 17, 2002. My birthday. My friend Tom and I had been out for many hours in the French Quarter. Staying at that same hotel as I had two years earlier. At the end of our evening we got Lucky Dogs from that same corner. Loaded with all the toppings, the things weighed more than a pound each. We got on the elevator, sweating booze in the sticky New Orleans summer air.
There were two other people in the elevator: a young woman, perhaps 20 and supermodel hot, and a guy in his 50s dressed in a suit. The girl told us our dogs looked disgusting. We didn't really care what a hot young girl thought; we had each other and our wieners. (Okay, that came out wrong.)
But the older guy decided he would try to make himself look cool in the girl's eyes by making fun of us. I let the first couple sentences go but after the third I looked at him and said "What the fuck is your problem?" Just then the elevator stopped at our floor. I stepped off but kept my eye on him, awaiting his repsonse.
"I don't have a problem," he said, "but you do. Those are going to make you fat."
Tom decided to interject: "We don't care if these make us fat... because we're already fat!"
At the time his comment struck me as an example of Algonquin-Round-Table-level wit. The next morning it seemed less so.
At any rate, we ate those Lucky Dogs in our room and damn were they delicious.
Late April, 2004. Jazz Fest time. The first night in town with my friends Dave and Carla, the former who had been to NOLA more times than I, the latter who had never been. We introduced her to the Hurricane, the Hand Grenade, and the concept of the Bourbon Street stand selling plastic cups of beer. Eventually in the early-morning hours we needed a second dinner. We took Carla by a Lucky Dogs cart and she got a dog with her name spelled in mustard. Somewhere in my collection is a photograph of a wild-eyed Carla holding up her hot dog, proudly displaying her name.
A few nights later it turned into a guys-night-out, as the ladies decided to stay in. Kevin bought Mardi Gras beads for everyone and we eventually stopped for Lucky Dogs. Another picture in my collection, even more bizarre than the one of Carla, is of me, Kevin, and Dave and Dave, all of us stuffing our faces with hot dogs, wearing necklaces and looking like a pathetic lot.
So it might not surprise you to learn that I have never had a Lucky Dog while sober. (Something I imagine I have in common with thousands, if not millions of visitors to New Orleans.) But after walking around for an hour or two in the French Quarter after eating those beignets at Cafe Du Monde, I was hungry again, while Elizabeth was not. I said no problem, I will just get myself a Lucky Dog.
I ordered one with mustard and onions. The display says $5.75, tax included. The guy charged me six. I wonder, do they routinely jack up the price by a quarter, hoping drunk people won't notice? Or is the sign outdated? I didn't ask; I didn't care.
I was worried it was going to be one of those things that only tastes good when you have a few drinks in you (like, say, a Jack in the Box taco) and that I would spit the first bite out and say "What the hell is this?"
But I didn't. It was actually pretty good. It did not alleviate my longing for a Dog Haus dog (after three and a half weeks I'm actually missing one of those even more than a Double-Double, al pastor taco or Zankou tarna wrap) but it was much better than I was expecting it to be. It was hot, thick, and the bun was perfectly soft. I would have no problem eating one of these again, sober or otherwise.
Posted by JustinM at 10:44 AM