Thursday, March 24, 2016

The Best Hot Dog I Ever Ate

I have been to the Brussels Airport--the site of this week's bombing attack.  In 1989 I traveled to Europe with other members of the Bay Port High School Political Club to visit Moscow, Paris and London.  Brussels was where we landed after departing Moscow.  We then took a bus from Brussels to Paris.  And the only thing I remember about the airport (and for that matter, Brussels itself) was that I ate the best hot dog of my entire life there.

It wasn't that the hot dog was any tastier than ones I've had at the old Mars Restaurant on Military Avenue in Green Bay, or in the bleachers at Wrigley Field, or at Hot Doug's in downtown Chicago or from Trails End here in Oshkosh.  That hot dog at the Brussels airport was the best ever because I had spent the previous four days eating Russian food.

Actually, that's a bit of mis-statement.  We didn't have real Russian food.  We just had incredibly bad food in the Soviet Union.  The first day at our youth hostel our bus wasn't ready to pick us up at the airport so we arrived too late for their meal service.  To accommodate us, they brought out plates of Swedish meatballs and veggies that didn't look too bad--until you realized that the food had apparently been plated previously--and when we didn't show up on time, was put into the refrigerator.  So we were served cold Swedish meatballs and veggies our first night in Moscow.  We also ate at the "first McDonalds" in the Soviet Union.  I can guarantee that they did not use American beef for the hamburger patties and I have no idea what constituted the "ketchup" on the burger.  Even the Cherry Coke that we bought at the Canadian-run Aerostar Hotel tasted awful--especially when we learned it was made from vegetable extracts.

So when our Aeroflot jet literally dropped out of the sky onto the runway in Brussels (a landing technique other fliers to Russia tell me seems to be their standard procedure) those of in the traveling party could not wait to enjoy "Western food" again.  After clearing customs, the first food stand we found was selling hot dogs--and we converged upon it like Saharan travelers throwing themselves into an oasis pond.  And the hot dogs tasted like real hot dogs!!!  It was a wonderful reminder of how much better the free market system was--where something had to be good since there were so many other options than just what the Government decided you could have.

So that is what all of the coverage of the Brussels Airport bombings reminded me of: the best hot dog I ever ate--and freedom.

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