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The “Snap” of Life

The Trouble with Food


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Jeffrey Schwab

3 years ago | 4 min read

The Trouble with Food

One of the challenges of writing about food is the difficulty it is to convey the personal experience in words relating to taste, texture, smell, and visuals when describing a meal to someone else. I would also go so far as to say that we need to incorporate the fifth sense of sound into the description of food as well.

While obviously the overriding senses most readily associated with food are the one-two punch of taste and smell; however, when thinking about a memorable/pleasurable (or even disastrous) meal, we need to be careful not to cheapen the memory, but rather strengthen it with all five senses.

And then there’s the 6th sense (not the movie), which is ever-so-important and diverse according to the individual. It could be intuition, personal schema, radar sense, depth of connection, a sense of luck, anticipation, a vivid connection to the past, etc.

How do we relate to one another’s 6th sense, especially when it comes to the feelings associated with a really good meal, or even more specifically, just the first bite of an amazing hot dog? I’ll try my best.

The dogs are much better than the one on the sign.

Time Out

Recently one of my favourite spots for an early afternoon lunch would have to be at Time Out. Although there are things besides hot dogs on the menu including burgers, fries, falafel sticks, etc, the reason people come here is for the Danish dogs, and I do mean Danish.

I have tended to go to their small shop nearby Nanjing Fuxing Station 南京復興站, but the owner has two other shops as well, one nearby Ximen 西門, and another nearby Gongguan 公關。The Nanjing Fuxing shop itself is small with only outdoor seating.

I have experienced the shop both on the hottest day in the summer when the temperature hovered around 40 degrees, as well as on a cooler day in November. Although there are no air conditioners or heaters, they provide a gigantic fan which you can sit next to directly, or personal blankets for diners to use on colder days.

I’m sure that these dishes are tasty as well, but don’t let them distract you too much from the wieners.

Once again, it’s the hot dogs at Time Out that really make the place special. To many, a hot dog is just a hot dog, but for me, some dogs rise above all others and help me to channel my 6th sense.

And that’s what brings us to the “snap” that is reflected in the title of this piece. In order for a hot dog to really work its way past just a regular 7–11 wiener (acceptable, and there’s a time and place for them as well), and earn the status of a true hot dog or Danish dog, it has to have the “snap.”

There’s really no other way to describe this feeling, this sound, than with this English word, “snap.” And yet, it’s not like the snap of thumb and forefinger, but more like the snap of a membrane popping inside your mouth.

On days I have a particularly good appetite I prefer to eat the Viking Dog.

To dive into the this concept of the “snap” a little bit deeper, I’m going to go out on a limb and make a comparison that might not at first glance seem to make sense at how amazing this sensation is when you first bite into a superior hot dog and experience it first hand.

For anyone who has, for whatever reason, ever contemplated or explored the idea of having an in vitro fertilization (IVF), I’m sure that you have watched the incredible videos that detail the different steps of the process.

You have the egg, you have the sperm, and then you have the science. Where natural processes cannot accomplish the miracle of life on their own, sometimes they need a bit of support from medical science….and it’s incredible to watch. The part that really astounds, the part that really captures the viewer’s attention is the part where the very small needle containing a single sperm is inserted into the egg.

I would challenge the reader to become the viewer and watch the short clip below. At 1 minute and 40 seconds you shall see this miraculous moment where the needle enters into the unsuspecting egg and the lonesome sperm is injected inside.

It is just at this moment, this 1 minute and 40 seconds where you are able to see the resistance and elasticity of the egg’s membrane as the needle pushes into it.

At this point, it’s easy to find yourself worrying for the egg, thinking that it will explode or be destroyed, definitely giving into what seems like an overwhelming and intrusive invasion. This is not the case. The egg’s membrane is incredibly resistant here, and it most definitely, most undeniably, “snaps” back into place.

Perhaps these mental images of equating the “snap” of that first bite of a Danish hot dog at Time Out to the snap of an egg’s membrane in an IVF procedure might not work for every reader. However, even if this comparison seems a bit over the top, the beauty of the creation of life cannot be denied.

Similarly, I do think that we also often take the complex processes that go into making hot dogs for granted. There are hot dogs, and then there are hot dogs with a “snap” of life.

Without a doubt, I can say that the Danish hot dogs at Time Out in Taipei help me see the beauty of life each time I take that first bite and feel, hear, see, taste, smell, and 6th sense the “snap,” all the way down until the very last bit is gone.

Classic cheese hot dog, Triple Cheese hot dog, and a side of fries. What more could we want in life?
Classic cheese hot dog, Triple Cheese hot dog, and a side of fries. What more could we want in life?

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Jeffrey Schwab

American living in Taipei since 2018. Working as a Chief Learning Officer in an IT company. Enjoy writing and improvising in my spare time.


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