Foodie Friday: Perrito Caliente

Sure, yesterday was thanksgiving and we made  it back to the States in time to celebrate but featuring turkey just doesn’t seem right to us, given that it is virtually impossible to find anywhere south of the border.  Instead, in honor of Turkey Day, we figured we’d offer our readers a taste of another USA treat.  One we know and love that just hasn’t been the same south of the border: the hot dog.

There is an expression sometimes uttered in Washington, that the two things you never want to see made: sausages and  laws.  I don’t disagree.  So we’ll skip the creation process of these encased little snacks and instead focus on the different varieties we’ve tasted.

Guatemala– the rather tasteless cheveres scared us a bit and we generally shied away.  Only available after dark on the street they always smelled a bit foul and the fixins were never particularly appetizing.

Colombia– we had our first taste of the South American version of the hot dog, where it was actually called a perrito caliente (little hot dog).  It was smothered in smashed up plantain or potato chips, doused with an army of sauces and covered with onions.  The chips were really what separated it from the NYC variety, that and that in Colombia the one we had was microwaved instead of flame cooked or boiled in water. 

Brazil– I don’t remember what they called it, but we ate it at a stand in Cuiaba. It was on a toasted bun with cheese, ham, hot dog, lettuce, ketchup, mayo, crunchie fries and tomato.  It was by far the greasiest piece of meat we’ve eaten in our entire lives.  We felt sick afterwards.

Bolivia– Instead of just a hot dog, Bolivia is a fan of salchipapas (also common in Peru), cut up hot dog on french fries.  The hot dog isn’t the highlight, but with all that grease on one plate, it can’t taste bad.  Plus, they always had ketchup.  Yum.

Argentina- had in my opinion, the most fun with the hot dog called a Super PanchoIn these the dog was usually about a foot long, if not longer, and didn’t come close to fitting inside the bun.  The number of sauces piled on top (ketchup, mustard, mayo, golf sauce) is rather unsettling and these are almost never sold in street side stands and instead are sold in small Super Pancho shops.  The best part is that like Colombia and Brazil, crunchy potato sticks are put all over the top.

Chile- very similar to Argentina except that the sauces we tried were all… unsettling.  Also called a pancho, and the one we tried in Santiago, well we did have video, but trust us you wouldn’t want to see it.

In truth though, nothing comes close to a good Sabrett or Hebrew National dog from a NYC vendor, covered in ketchup (a rarity anywhere but the USA) mustard, onions, relish, and maybe some onions and if you’re really lucky some chili sauce.  In fact, just thinking about the late night dogs we used to get in college from Manouch has me salivating.  Washington, D.C.’s specialty is the half-smoke, a plump and short spicy beef dog served on a plain bun or better yet at Ben’s served smothered in chili.  Since we haven’t been up to New York (or even Washington, DC) in awhile we had to ask a friend to fine one to enjoy for us…it wasn’t too difficult to convince him to do it though.

(Jill’s Editors Note: Danny was raised by a New Yorker, so he’s completely biased. This post is clearly wrong.  He has left our the best hot dog on the planet- the Chicago Char-Dog.  A char-broiled beef delight covered in ketchup, mustard, onions and kosher dill slices served on a poppy seed bun. Hmm… it just makes my mouth water. Anyone know where I can get one of these on the east coast before mid-december?)

Colombia Rafting Expeditions (San Gil, Colombia)

Listed in our guidebook as a kayak company (gasp!) we went to San Gil partly because of them. Arriving at their office, we were given a rundown of the few river sections available in the dry season. Wanting to put us on the Class II/Class III river before letting us go down anything more technical, we signed up to follow a river raft the following day. Unfortunately the equipment was very old and in poor shape. 2/3 of Danny’s warner paddle blade was missing, leaving him rather vulnerable upside down in the river. The equipment had seen better days and I wouldn’t want to be running a Class IV with any of it. Essentially we functioned as the safety boaters for the raft trip, but the river was more 2 than 3 so it turned out to be an extremely easy run. Disappointed we went back to the office to try to repeat the run that afternoon, but they were not inclined to offer us any discount, even without a guide. Their next trip was two days later, but we declined to go with them again partly because of their refusal to let us do the run again on our own at a discount, but mostly because of the poor quality of the rental kayak equipment.

We Loved Colombia

Coming out of Central America, Colombia was simply a dream come true. We’ve been to amazing museums and done tons of fun things. When we met people in Colombia, be it on the trail or in the street they were all friendly. They ask where we’re from and how we like our time here. When people here see us with a camera they offer to take our picture, rather than ask for money in exchange for theirs. Bogota was the first big city we’ve been to where we felt at home and we just kept finding more and more incredible things to eat.

We had planned to spend more time in Colombia, going all the way north to the coast and then back south again through Medellin. Finally we realized that as much as we wanted to  spend an afternoon soaking in the mud pits of Cartegena overlooking Caribbean, spending 22 hours on a bus each way just wasn’t worth it…especially when we can fly there from Ft. Lauderdale for less money than the bus would have cost. We’ll just have to come back to Colombia again sometime in the future.

Danny tries Chicha

While in Colombia we had tons of great new foods. While couchsurfing we went out for Chicha, a fermented corn drink that could best be described as filling.   We followed that up with an arepa which is the Colombian version of the sandwich/shwarma/gyro/burrito (take your pick) only with these there are about 30 different varieties to choose from. Bogota, like NYC, is known for its hot dogs and pizza and although it would seem New York City has nothing to worry about, the people here are onto something when they add little pieces of fried plantains to the top of the hot dogs…then some great sauce on top of that. The dessert of choice (how could we forget dessert) is two large waffle sized wafers with caramel mushed in the middle, unless of

course you want some berry or cream to go with it as well. And if that wasn’t enough, top it off with a kebab of perfect beef, with a potato on top, for a dollar.

Now, with our stomachs quite full, we turn our attention to Ecuador. Crossed the border without issue yesterday and made our way to Quito. No one we have met on this trip has exited the country with all the things they had when they entered; although some of our friends from DC recently got tear-gassed. Good luck to us.

TP Memories

This should have been put up a long time ago, but since we’re border crossing the next few days and probably won’t have internet, here is a little ditty or what I like to call Ode to TP.

When the rumble begins
and the moment is near
time is short
eyes well with fear

you look around
find the right door
run ahead
the stalls number four

The first is chosen
closest it is
someone is inside
the throne is his

Is there one clean
lucky enough you are
because if it wasn’t
you wouldn’t have made it very far

The pants drop
you sit in a second
relieved at last
your smile begins to bend

As you look up
something important is missing
you really do wish
you’d only been pissing

But as things would have it
pissing you’re not
with the pants down
you’ve been caught

The tears well up
you’re more terrorized than ever
will you forget this day
probably never

Toilet paper, like the air
usually there when you sit
but when it’s gone
oh man, you’re in deep $hit!

“Acro” and “Mulas”

Flying above the ground at 400m, I asked my tandem partner “you do this every day all day?” “Si, senora,” he replied. Sometimes work isn’t so bad after all.

After our adventures on the river and our hike along camino real we decided it was time to take things up a notch. Literally. So we signed up to go on a tandem paragliding adventure. Unlike the United States, there are almost never release forms to be signed when doing extreme or adventure sports in other countries. While at first it seemed odd, I have never felt unsafe. That is until Alex, my tandem partner asked me if I wanted to do “acro”. Unsure as to what “acro” was and heading Danny’s advice never to say yes without completely understanding I replied. “Yo no se, que es la significa de acro?” “Vueltas,” he replied. (turns). “Oh, ok. Entiendo,” I said, signifying that I understood him. Lost in my translation of course was the fact that I had not yet agreed to do “acro”. As we began to climb higher above the ground he quickly jerked the sail to the right and we began to spin. And by spin I mean circle at fast speeds high above the ground loosing altitude with every spin.

As Danny told me later, everyone on the ground could hear me scream from 400m up. It was insanely fun though and when my turn was over I thanked Alex profusely for the “acro” and the time in the air.

Many of you may not realize what a Tour de France fan Danny is. Working from home the last few years he was able to watch each stage live. Now that we’re pretty much limited to watching via the Internet, our 40km bike trip to the Juan Casi Cascada became our own mini Tour de Colombia. Riding for what seemed like hours along the Rio Fonce we finally reached the waterfall in the heat of mid-day and of course splashed right in. I think the picture of Danny sums up the temperature of the water. It really was that cold. Somewhat refreshed, but mostly frozen we headed back towards San Gil. Signs along the highway warned “Peligro Mulas en la via.” Having quickly forgotten the lesson of the day before, that my Spanish isn’t nearly fluent enough, I decided Mulas was mules (turns out it actually is mules!). Needless to say, not five minute later we came across a lone mule loaded with sugar cane walking down the road. Mulas! I exclaimed to a bewildered Danny. With not a single other human soul in site, the mule proceeded down the road, even crossing sides of the street to avoid traffic. Amazed, we continued on our way passing several more lone mules along the road. Turns out there are Mulas en la via!