Where in world...?

An old friend phoned the other day. He never phones. But this time he just had to know: "What are you doing living in Florence?"
He thought I was in Florence, Italy. I told him it was Florence, Massachusetts.
Here are some answers -- my occasional wanderings through Florence, MA and the surrounding Pioneer Valley.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Gray's Papaya: The King of Hot Dogs

El Señor is just gonna laugh his head off about this one. Hot dogs are probably easy to find where he is, and in fact, bratwursts are probably more popular. This week, it's Florentina New York Nosh Week. Today was Gray's Papaya on 72nd and Broadway on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Not only was it a fast food excursion, it was also a Florentina sprint day through NYC public transit, namely the subway system. Coming from Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, combined with a detour in Grand Central Station because of a mistimed email from my sister asking to meet there beforehand, this trip took an hour and five different subways: R, N, 5, S, and the last and most awesome, 2 train. The 2 train got me from Grand Central Station to W 72nd Street in a matter of minutes as an express. If you were in Grand Central Station at around noon today, you would have seen me sprinting through the terminal. If I had not made that detour for my sister, I still would have needed to take three different subway lines to get up there.

The paper versions of fruits hanging above these besotted fast foodies represent the fruit flavors for various cold drinks to go with your hot dog or two. My sister made sure to order the Recession Special ($4.95) of two hot dogs with your choice of toppings, and a drink. She got me a papaya drink, as requested. The different colored signs also tell you what kinds of drink flavors are available, as if the paper decorations don't grab your attention. Understandably, the hot dogs will take a lot of your attention because they are the star of the show here.

When I was a kid in New York City, I just loved getting a hot dog from the streetside carts. Sure, they're probably terrible for you, but it was a rare treat. Gray's Papaya gives you the same thrill but in a more hygienic fashion, as well as some friendly faces behind the counter. My hot dog with ketchup, mustard, and sauerkraut really hit the spot. In fact, I realized tonight that it was pretty much the only thing I ate for most of the day, with half of the papaya drink. I'm sure tomorrow will be a better day for my nutritional intake.

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