In one of the more amusing postings I’ve seen on a blog I read which is regularly amusing, the writer of Ann Arbor is Overrated notes that in upstate New York, they serve a style of hot dog referred to as a “michigan.” Let me attempt to explain.
There are a few “unique foods” in Michigan– lots of cherries up north, and way up north, you’ve got pasties, the meat pies served with gravy oh so popular in the “U.P.” But in southeast Michigan, I don’t think there really is a distinctive food product. Oh sure, I suppose there’s a lot of good Polish and Middle Eastern food in this area, and Detroit does make a big deal out of the Polish jelly doughnut called a “Paczki,” but hey, when all is said and done, a doughnut is a doughnut. Unless, of course, it’s a Krispy Kreme, but that’s a whole different discussion.
The Detroit area does have these places called “koney islands” (or, sometimes, “coney islands”). “Koney islands” the places, are diners, and they almost always serve a food product called a “koney island,” which is a chili dog. No, I don’t have any idea why they call diners koney islands and chili dogs koney islands.
Anyway, AAO discovered this link to what he (I presume “he,” but I don’t really know) calls a “bizarro-world” in New York where they sell these “michigan” (with a small M?) hot dogs. Be sure to visit the comments– they’re more than half the fun.
All of this inspired a “Daddy-Will” dining experience on Friday at a Koney Island. Will didn’t have school, so we went to Briarwood Mall in Ann Arbor and lunched at Kerby’s Koney Island, which is a local chain. I suppose we could have gone to a more “authentic” koney island, like Abe’s Coney Island in downtown Ypsilanti, but that’s a bit too skanky and smoky for a seven year old, let alone me. We took the more white bread approach. Incidentally, across from the Kerby’s Koney Island in the mall is a California Pizza Kitchen, and down the way two stores is a sushi place. That seems so Ann Arbor to me.
Will had the chicken fingers (where did they ever come up with that name, anyway? it always inspires a vision of mutant birds for me) and I, of course, had the coney (or koney) island. How was it? Well, it was fried chicken breast and a chili dog. We ate it, it tasted like food (more or less), and I, er, “remembered” my chili dog pretty much for the rest of the day. I don’t think I would not go back, but I also don’t think it will become my regular place.
But at least I’ve been once.