I was on vacation with my family in southern Quebec when I opened e-mail from What’s Up Yukon editor Peter Jickling asking me if I had any “hot dog” stories for the magazine.
It occurred to me that other than eating them over the years I had no stories of any value. Once I burnt my nostril biting into a boiled cheese smokie, but that’s about it.
As I was about to politely decline, it hit me — I’m in Quebec, home of le Casse-Croute, and my fellow Yukoners are reaching out to me.
A Casse-Croute is Quebec’s version of a greasy spoon, where you can find some of the best homegrown comfort food around.
I knew what had to be done; I needed to go on a wild hot dog eating spree to educate my adoring fans. Vacation or not, I had a job to do.
The plan was simple: go to Main Street in the city of Magog and eat a hot dog at every restaurant on the strip.
My first stop was just off the highway at Valentines, which serves cheap fried food. I ordered a steamed dog and watched intently as a greasy teen with a huge hairnet prepared it. When he handed it to me, it was sad. The bun looked like it was fused to the meat. Coyly I asked him where they get their wieners; the greasy teen smiled and said it was a mystery — classic!
I closed my eyes, ate the mystery meat and headed toward brighter wiener pastures.
Next I hit Le Cantine du Lac, a traditional Casse-Croute that was clean and welcoming.
I ordered a toasted dog with all the fixings. The waitress obliged and within minutes I had a hot, meaty treat in front of me. I literally licked my lips as steam rolled off the dog. This time I slowly chewed and savoured it before moving on.
As I strolled down Main Street I came upon Tabagie Label, a magazine store that has been a mainstay in Magog for generations. It also has a little restaurant counter with old fashion stools, giving the place a cool retro look.
My father told me when he was a kid, his dad would order dogs there and they would cook them in a boiler-like contraption that would make the wieners come out plump and juicy. Unfortunately the diner was closed for the day, crushing my meaty spirits.
I was not to be deterred; a short walk away was Chez Paul, possibly the most famous Cass Croute in Magog. Located in a perfect storm of bars and businesses, Chez Paul offers poutine that would make your arm hair stand up.
I walked in, looked at the menu board and saw one the most obscure items you can find, the infamous Guedille — a toasted hot dog bun with all the fixings filled with coleslaw and topped off with fries. This is not a joke, it exists. I was so curious I ordered this abomination with a hot dog; I couldn’t resist.
The Guedille came packed with fries and the dog was also covered in slaw. Eating both within minutes, my tongue danced and my belly swelled.
I went on to eat one more dog down the street before I got the meat sweats and had to throw in the towel.
But I’ll never forget the day I went hot-dogging in Quebec.