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Plates of Garbage

December 2, 2008
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My friendship with Mike has not been particularly educational, but he has taught me one important lesson: when traveling, seek hot dogs. And so I did in Rochester, NY, the day after Thanksgiving. My stomach pleasantly stretched by turkey and stuffing, I decided to pursue my next large meal. This one, I was determined, would involve encased meats.

In Rochester, you’ve got two types of hot dogs, referred to simply as “hots” – white hots and red hots. (My inner librarian directs you to the RocWiki for more information.) Most places serve Zweigle’s hots, the local favorite – you can even buy them frozen in the Rochester airport.

So, I knew I had to get me some hots, but another Rochester tradition – the garbage plate – had also tantalized my appetite. What is a garbage plate? Well, the description is quite apt: you start with a mound of home fries or french fries on a plate, next to a mound of mayo-based salad (usually macaroni); pile on your choice of fatty meats; and top off a generous spoonful “hot sauce” (more on this later). The exact composition of the garbage plate will differ from eatery to eatery, but all are variations on this theme.

The question vexing me that day was this: where could I get a garbage plate with hots? The answer was Nick Tahou Hots (pronounced as in “Lake Tahoe”). I wish I had read the Wikipedia entry prior to my visit, for it is a site steeped in history and culture.  According to the locals, it’s the place high school whiteboys from the suburbs go to prove they can hang out in tough big city ‘hoods by themselves.

I almost got run over while taking this picture:

From Nick Tahou Hots

Upon my entry, smiling service, alliteration, and a greasy grill greeted me:

I was torn between white hots and red hots; however, the friendly proprietor informed me I could order a “combo plate” with one of each. Here it is, in all its glory:

The hots were split down the middle, griddled until brown on both sides, gently laid upon the mac salad and home fries, and sprinkled with diced onions. And that crap on top? That’s the “hot sauce” – a.k.a. grill scrapings. Gross, yes, but very tasty – just like chili without the spices! I hurried to devour my plate before it started congealing:

Despite all the non-encased-meat foods on the garbage plate, the hots held up quite well.  (As you can see above, I ate the hots in violation of local custom on a thick slice of complimentary white bread.)  I was surprised to discover that the red hots and white hots pretty much taste the same.  The seasoning was quite similar to commercial bratwurst, and the casings had a nice snap.  My mom would be proud of my clean plate:

Five hours later, I followed up with a sizable meal of ribs, pulled pork, and brisket at Sticky Lips BBQ before going to the Amerks game.  (The BBQ was pretty good, but I opted out of their version of the garbage plate.) Like I said, I did a good job expanding my stomach the day before.  It was a good trip, but my digestive system yearned for vegetables upon my return home.

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