With the Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival coming up this September, there’s more than enough to fantasize about: yarn, fleece, sheep, tractors, farm equipment, and plenty of 4H events. I’ve been a regular since 2004. In Chicago, quality yarns are easy to find. Try finding a fleece. A good one. At this festival, I always go home with a beaut. You’d think that as an avid hand spinner, I’d be fairly near to heaven, dreaming about the great fleece in my future. Nope. This year, I got just one thing on my mind: corn dogs.
Not just any corn dogs. I’m talking about hand-dipped corn dogs, made while you wait.
Oh, my stars. Have you ever had one of these?
My first was at last year’s festival. When the line at the lunch counter was just too long, I decided to take my chances at the food cart outside. That’s where I found these golden delicacies. Creamy cornishy hot doggie goodness. Like night and day from the stuff I’d had before–what I thought were corn dogs, now clearly understood as impostors. There ought to be a law.
Here in Chicago, food truck owners are struggling with the city council, which just passed an ordinance allowing them to operate, but they must remain beyond a 200-foot radius of any brick and mortar restaurant. The food truck owners complained that this made it nearly impossible for them to operate, especially downtown. At first I thought, hey, restaurant owners pick their sites with care. They have a right to operate without a food truck parked in front of their door, taking all their business. The food truck has the luxury of mobility. The brick and mortar restaurant does not.
I guess you could say that no lease owner is protected from competition. What prevents a competitor from moving in right next door? I rent an apartment. I have no control over who lives next to me or over me or across the hall. If I don’t like it, I can move.
But really, something about this perspective doesn’t seem quite right. Why is the burden on me to move? I’ve been here a long time. I’ve established a life here. Is it really fair to the restaurant owner who has worked hard to establish a clientele and a place in the neighborhood when a food truck parks outside its door?
My guess is that food truck owners don’t want to cause problems. They want to establish a tradition, as the Chicago Food Carts blog puts it, “that other great cities like New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco have had for decades.” My jones’n for a hand-dipped corn dog has made me think maybe it wouldn’t be half bad to ease the restriction.
From what I’ve read, corn dogs are rather pedestrian fare for food trucks these days. They probably wouldn’t even sell corn dogs. They’d probably sell corn duck sausage or corn fritters with chicken, spinach, and asiago. Well, if you can put it on a stick, I guess I’ll try it.
Here’s hoping Chicago can work this out. Don’t make me wait once a year for something so good.