A Star-Studded Lunch Encounter at Ben’s

Hot Dog: A Global History

London: Reaktion Books Ltd. 2009 (Hardcover)

Hot Dog Hootenanny with Bruce Kraig

When Bruce Kraig, a Chicago culinary historian and recognized authority on the history of hot dogs, e-mailed to say he was going to be in Washington, D.C. to participate in a Library of Congress symposium on baseball and its essential elements, he suggested we find an outstanding hot dog venue for lunch. My immediate response was that in D.C. the ultimate sausage experience is a half smoke, not a hot dog.
Photo by Bruce Kraig

So on Friday, October 2, we headed for Ben’s Chili Bowl in the U Street/Cardozo area where we were joined by Janet Riley, president of the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council and self-described “Queen of Wien,” as well as another of Bruce’s local friends, Joan Nathan, who brought along a visiting friend, Betsy Apple. Betsy, who shared her late husband’s food adventures for years, reported that his last book, Food Stuff, a collection of his essays from the New York Times, has just been published.

Photo by Bruce Kraig

Ben’s was crowded, as always, with a line of people waiting to order, so we were seated in one of the back rooms where it was the famed chili half smokes all around, accompanied by potato chips and a lot of paper napkins, and a chocolate malt, a “sweet [iced] tea,” a Coke, plus other beverages. With 2-hour parking meters demanding attention, we all left reluctantly but well-satisfied with the food and the lively conversation.

Shirley Cherkasky

My mother was kind enough to invite me to join them for lunch. Alas, I was at work that day. Will need to get a smoke in soon enough on my own.


One response to “A Star-Studded Lunch Encounter at Ben’s

  1. Guest post – cool! I’m glad to hear that Apple’s last writings will be collected.

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