Stadium Food: 100% American!

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Cliff Radel -- Cincinnati Enquirer

Cliff Radel — Cincinnati Enquirer

One of my best food memories is also one of my worst. Picture this: a warm summer day in Cincinnati; an afternoon off of work; a Reds game; sitting right above the outfielders; a cold beer; and a hot dog. Sure, it’s not Paris. After all, who is going to argue that sports stadium food is gourmet or haute cuisine? And while I am admittedly not the world’s greatest American sports fan, I have to say that there is something about watching a live baseball game that is just enchanting and fascinating.

Maybe it’s the look on the pitcher’s face as he strategizes. Maybe it’s the crack of the bat when the hitter makes a solid connection with the ball. Maybe it’s the game’s slow, intelligent, deliberate pace. Or maybe it’s everything about the game. But there is a certain x-factor about baseball that makes it unique in all the world. It is a slow game of skill, of thought, far from the bone-crushing action of American football, or the nonstop frenzy of basketball. It is a thinking man’s game.

And, in my opinion, nothing fuels thinking like food! Baseball is of course so much more than thinking: it is action, adventure, rivalry, excitement — all of these things add up to a very lively, soulful experience. For whatever reason, baseball-stadium food tends to center around the hot dog, a quintessential American food. Sure, you can trace the hot dog’s roots to the German immigrants from Frankfurt, Germany (Frankfurters). And you can find examples of really superb sausage around the world. But there is something about the humble American hot dog that is lowly, delicious, and charming, all at the same time.

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