Hot diggity dog, diggity, boom what you do to me.
“We’re going to Costco, do you want to come.”
Stan and Peggy Jones know that Don Day’s Wife and I don’t drive. Don Day’s Wife by desire. Don Day by the wishes of anyone who’s ever driven with Don Day.
Our answers were “Yes” and “Yes”. Don Day’s Wife because she thinks she saves money by buying enough toilet paper to wipe every ass on every stool at Hank’s in a month of Taco Tuesdays. Don Day because, when you live in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, there are certain edible delights that are only available at Costco.
I love going to Costco because that means it will be my personal responsibility to assess the amount of marbling on every single 2500 peso rib roast and then listen to Don Day’s Wife say “Can’t you find one with more fat?”
I love going to Costco because it will be my job to pick the largest wedge of Parmesano Reggiano I can find and then find that Don Day’s Wife has already picked two because this is as good a parmesan as we’ve ever found anywhere, never mind in Mexico.
I love going to Costco because I get to feel like a little kid when I sneak a pack of the fresh profiteroles and frozen spanokapita into the cart while Don Day’s Wife is searching for the paper towels that Costco strategically places at a level about fifteen feet beyond anyone’s vision or reach.
I love to go to Costco because it is one of the few places in the western (no, make that eastern and western) world that Don Day’s Wife would even consider buying a factory made meal. In the 20+ years she has put up with me, this was time number six, maybe seven. And, of course, it was Don Day’s fault. “You’ve got to try this lasagna, Honey, it’s almost (note the bold, underline and italics) as good as yours.” DDW’s response, “Grrrrrr.” But the lasagna is now in our freezer drawer.
I love to go to Costco because it is there I find enormous quantities of one of my most favorite wines, La Vieille Ferme, a Rhone red that I have been drinking for longer than Costco has been in existence. I look at the price of about six bucks a bottle and then try to pick up a couple of cases, only to settle for one as I shake my head as to why Costco cuts two thirds of the sides off the cases and makes them impossible to lift.
And I love to go to Costco for one more thing.
We were already in Celaya when Peggy Jones turned around to the back seat and said, “Do you have anywhere special in Celaya you’d like to go for lunch?”
I replied, “I was hoping we’d just grab a dog at Costco.”
“I was hoping you’d say that”, said Peggy.
Don Day loves hot dogs. Despite all my oohs and aahs about exotic foods with unpronounceable names from distant corners of the globe, give me a good dog and you’ll give me a mile wide smile.
And the best hot dog available in San Miguel? Well, actually I should say the best available within a reasonably short road trip to Celaya or Queretaro? Yes, Costco.
You see those unmentionable (but still tasty) parts that went into hot dogs in the bad old days were pig parts. And if you shop at Mega or Soriana in San Miguel de Allende, you will still be finding wieners or franks or viennese sausages or red hots that are still made of pork or turkey.
But not at Costco. Costco dogs are according to Costco made with “100% beef with only fresh USDA Choice or better cuts” and “without fillers, binder, phosphates, corn syrup, artificial color and artificial flavors”.
I could see the food stand in the distance as Stan parked his new Pathfinder far from the danger of anyone opening a door within 50 feet of its shiny new paint. The Costco Celaya stand looks like any other food stand. Tacky.
Costco offers other things but, apart from the odd wedge of pizza Hawaiiana, everyone’s there for the hot dog and 600 ml. drink (with refill) priced at 25 pesos (less than two bucks). The Costco food stand is the busiest restaurant in Celaya.
Now, to Don Day, 25 pesos is an incredible bargain, one of the very best cheap lunches anywhere. But not to the average Mexican. In order to have the ability to buy a Costco hot dog, one must have a Costco membership. Which means it costs about two days pay just for the right to buy a dog. And I should mention you can’t just buy a dog. You can buy a 600 ml. drink on its own for 12 pesos. But you can’t buy a hot dog without that 600 ml. (about 300 ml. more than I ever) drink.
Going to a Costco food stand though is not just about eating and drinking, it’s a bit of an adventure. It starts at the Sanigizer. There are two of them at the Celaya Costco. Now Don Day is not one of those people who believes that cleanliness is next to godliness (I still rank happiness ahead), but when I see one of those machines on the wall, I have to push the button.
So while Stan and Peggy (always go to Costco with someone else who has an up-to-date card) were waiting in line, I pushed the button on the first machine. And then the second. And then felt very stupid because I have never pushed a button on a Sanigizer at Costco that ever worked. Yet it seems that, every time I’m at Costco, there’s someone (inexplicably wearing a bulletproof vest) attempting to repair the Sanigizer, an event, in Celaya, almost as popular as an afternoon telenovella.
After you get that eight inch in length, quarter pound in weight, hot dog, you head to the big chrome dispensers with the Catsup (a word still preferred over ketchup by us old guys), Mostaza, Mayonesa and a second Catsup. Which implies that twice as many people use ketchup as use mustard. Which implies that people have never seen this scene from Dirty Harry.
I’ve always wondered if anyone’s ever picketed the Costco headquarters in Kirkland, Washington (now you know where the Kirkland brand name came from) with a sandwich board saying Why The Hell Is There No Green Relish?
I squirted on my mustard, took pix of Stan and Peggy already eating their dogs, made a mental note to never take pix of your friends when they’re eating dogs if you want to keep them as friends, and headed over to the big chrome grinders.
I love the grinders. And Costco is the only place I’ve ever been that has the grinders. You twirl the handle, pretending you’re Santiago bringing in the 300 lb. marlin, and out of the other side of the grinder magically appear onions. As you wish they were not raw but sauteed in butter onions, you wander over to the other chrome grinder, catch another marlin and this time watch the jalapenos fall onto that giant tube steak.
Then it’s over to the drinks area to get your Pepsi Lite where the fountains are strategically designed to make it impossible to get every one of your 600 millilitres without spending over a minute there. Then it’s a long walk over to the picnic benches pondering how many tens of millions of pesos Pepsi spent to get Costco to switch from Coke to Pepsi and humming an old Carly Simon song.
And then, finally, that first moment when that cylinder of sin, that 500+ calories of flavor enters your mouth. First the beef. And then the spices. I’m guessing garlic, paprika, salt and pepper. And then those juices. Those better lean over the table juices. Those double up on the napkin juices. Those incredibly tasty juices that, perhaps only an old food blog writer would know, are almost entirely animal fats.
It’s no wonder that Costco sells over a hundred million hot dogs a year.