Last Monday, the CCA team went to the ball park. The baseball was fun, but I will always remember it as the evening I had my very first taste of corn dog. My only previous encounter with a corn dog was one late night many years ago when my freshman year dormmate Eliah experienced the first of what were to be many lapses in judgement at our local 7-Eleven. After extracting the corn dog from its silver-and-red foil sheath, he dangled it in front of my queasy face. It was hard to believe that this was something people actually ingested. Indeed, the subsequent sight of it entering my friend's maw was so unmentionable and disturbing that I stopped eating for several days. It took a great deal of coaxing and a large scoop of hazelnut gelato before I could put anything in my mouth again.
My tastes have since broadened. I have come to love Whoppers, BBQ-flavored Lays, and many other dishes native to this country. I have digested malted vanilla milkshakes and cheeseburgers stacked high. The one thing I could never face was another corn dog. But time heals most wounds, and the corn dog seemed like such a quintessential part of the ball-game experience that I felt it my duty to give it an open-minded try.
The concession stand offered two choices: the traditional corn dog, or its spicy variant. Taking a purist's stance, I picked the first option. Much as I feared, it came in a familiar-looking foil package. I tried not to think about it too much.
As with so many gastronomic disasters, the first few bites were actually not too bad. The skin of the soggy battered exterior was faintly reminiscent of baba au rhum (the kind I associate with modest Parisian patisseries). The sausage boasted an inoffensive, if somewhat anemic, savor, with a texture not unlike well-stewed tripe. The pleasurable convenience and novelty of eating something on a stick mollified the vestiges of my revulsion.
But as I slowly worked my way down the corn dog (and it approached its microwave-addled half-life), my contentment bypassed disgust, giving way to a strange, hollow feeling. The taste of the batter and sausage had curdled on my palate into a clot of blandness.
Seeing my dispirited expression, Rachel gestured to the mustard on her hot dog. Try some of this, she suggested. I tentatively dipped what was left of the corn dog into the fluorescent yellow paste and tried a bite.
It turns out that condiments are indispensable to the corn dog. Much like a delicate dab of wasabi can balance and enhance the sweetness of toro, the corn dog greatly benefits from several generous squirts of mustard. Or maybe the deadly fugu is a more apt example, perhaps we could class it among those foods needing a deft human hand to render it palatable for consumption.
Whatever the case, I think it will be some time before I give it another try.