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Monday, May 23, 2011

So close, yet so far away...

Yesterday, I stumbled upon a sandwich marathon of sorts (I think they called it "Best Buns") on the Travel Channel. Besides learning where to get burgers in Reno and Lobster rolls in Maine, they addressed a topic near and dear to my heart:

Who has a better coney dog: Lafayette or American Coney Island in Detroit?

I won't bore you with the whole story of these rival businesses owned by brothers, next door to each other for 70+ years. And I can't even tell you personally which one is best, because I lived in the suburbs and went to National, Leo's, Kerby's or the coney island right across the street from my house (we could've walked, had we not been fat, lazy Detroiters trying to score hot dogs), Westside Coney Island. As Ron said today, in Detroit there's a coney island on every corner, and people go 4-5 times a week.

Yeah, those were the good old days. How I weighed 70 pounds less and went to coneys once a week will always be one of life's mysteries. I think it helped that Vic Tanny (Bally's whatever) was also on the way home and I ate a lot of Greek salads.

I always miss Detroit coneys, and they're just not something that you can make on your own (mostly because the recipe for the sauce contains some questionable ingredients). I mostly blame the intro to the TV show "Hung," which starts out in front of American and Lafayette and ends up at Hung's house, which I believe is West Bloomfield. (Quarton Lake, maybe?) This Travel Channel show yesterday didn't help much.

Luckily, there is an option for displaced Detroiters here in the Music City. A few months ago, I had driven by a tiny hole-in-the-wall establishment attached to a gas station called Jim's Coney Island. It looked a little sketch, but I was at Def Con 4 on the coney situation after watching Carmen Harlan scarf them down on national TV.

I read the reviews for Jim's and people said it was pretty authentic. They also said he had Faygo pop (that's soda, for those of you not blessed enough to be Midwestern), so right there I knew it would be good.

And it was. Aside from the fact that the bar stools were built for NBA players and not my short ass, everything was perfect. I had a coney with onions and mustard (the only way one eats a coney), chili cheese fries (which were good, but a little salty) and a Faygo Rock & Rye. I took a picture with my phone and sent it to my brother who thought I had somehow ended up in Detroit. No, but it was a close as I'd get at 11 a.m. on a Monday.

The food was good, and it's nice to know I have a place to score some Faygo and salt and vinegar Better Made chips with my coney dog. Cincinnati coneys are good for what they are, but Detroit coneys are a whole different beast.

Of course, I shouldn't be eating any of it because I'm on a diet. But homesickness does not know anything about calories. And it's neat to have someone to talk about the Red Wings and Ram's Horn and all things Detroit with.

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