Are you traveling to escape?

Are you traveling to escape?

I used to think my traveling fell into a form of escapism, of running away from places and people that were small and constraining, places and people I perceived to be stunting a growth within me I didn’t even fully recognize I needed.

I was like a little bird repeatedly slamming itself into the walls of its cage, squawking and flapping furiously at every glimpse of sunlight, wind, and, God forbid, brother and sister birds that had made it out. I wanted out.

And I still want out. If I’m in a country for longer than a couple of months, I start to get trapped bird syndrome. I feel the impulse to learn a new language, cope with a new set of weird challenges, meet a whole new group of friends, take a new lover, and sleep under a new roof.

It’s not so much out that I want out, I realize, as I want in. I want the feeling of going into something again.

Like when I wade into a new body of water and it’s cold and my skin prickles and it takes awhile to muster up the courage to put my belly button, chest, neck, and finally entire head underwater. And then I emerge back onto the surface and my whole body is warm and acclimatized. No more painful chills, no more questioning if I was going to go for a swim at all.

Many people like the acclimatized feeling, but I like the feeling of wading in.

Just last week, I was in the midst of squawking for new shores when someone reminded me of the quote that goes something like, “You’re most yourself when you’re in the company of strangers.”

And I stopped banging my head against the cage for a minute. I thought, That’s it. That’s why I travel. Why so many of us travel. We say it’s because it makes us come alive and ignites our senses and challenges us and teaches us new things and lends a hell of a lot of perspective.

Yes, but.

I think it’s really because travel surrounds us with strangers, and strangers provide the freedom to be our most authentic selves. Back home, you have to act and react in response to certain expectations. But “out there,” you act and react however you feel in the moment. You run on gut instinct, and instinct, I believe, leads the way to our true nature.

The little voices, the little impulses, that’s who we really are. But we silence those voices and temper those impulses when there’s people we know watching, because we worry, what would they think? I rely on them for love and acceptance, so will they still love and accept me if I act differently?

Travel takes me away from everyone who loves and accepts me, and I know that going in. I get on a plane to South Korea and I’m headed seven time zones away from anyone who actually cares if I live or die.

I never knew why that was so exciting until I heard that quote — because I’m taking a break from the push and pull of relationships that have stakes, relationships that turn down the volume of my true, wild nature. I hop on a plane and I’m turning up the volume on the human interactions that allow me to fearlessly express more of who I really am.

I thought back to the times I stayed in a hostel in a tiny town in Brazil for just one night, and had the absolute time of my life, running around and talking to everyone, dancing on the bar at 2am, and having soul-baring exchanges on the beach before sunrise with strangers whose names I can’t remember and who I’ve never seen since.

I thought back to why freshman year of college was the best year of my life, why I felt so alive having moved 14 hours away from home to be one of 25,000 students on a campus where I didn’t know a single other soul. I was happy because I could finally be whoever I wanted to be, after 17 years of being who people already expected me to be. That complete freedom and anonymity brought me into my truest self.

I thought back to 14 months of travel through Southeast Asia, India, Nepal, and Europe, completely solo except for the short periods punctuated by the company of strangers who would slowly turn into new friends and travel with me for awhile. I always felt at such peace with these new companions because there were no ulterior motives, no need to act a certain way to “keep the peace” because we’re family and we’ve got a long life ahead, or because we shared the title of “best friend” and I wouldn’t want to tarnish our history.

I thought back to my favorite romances, all of which occurred when there was a definite termination point in sight. I acted and loved with abandon because I didn’t care if they liked me anymore. The fact that we were both moving in different directions was a given, so I didn’t to act a certain way to earn their approval or commitment. I was just me.

After hearing that quote, I began to realize that people who “know me well” only know one particular side of my personality, one predictable pattern of many possible variations that I fall into when I’m with them out of habit, out of the unconscious need to confirm who they think I am, to remain consistent, because erratic behavior is not conducive to the reliable relationships we need to “survive” out there. Showing a yet unseen shade of my personality that differs from the one they’ve already accepted and loved is dangerous and makes me self-conscious, so I don’t take the risk. I keep that little part of me tucked away.

And I know that I’m doing the same with the others I “know and love” — I’m unconsciously measuring them against who I’ve come to understand they are. If their behavior continues to match my understanding, we’re good, but if there’s a huge deviance, I’ll feel a form of distrust (you’re not who I thought you were).

Close, intimate relationships clearly have a place in my life and in yours, too, so of course I’m not saying to reject or replace them and I’m definitely not saying to never get close to anyone new. What I am saying is that these consistent relationships may actually be suppressing an important part of your being that only strangers can unleash, that only travel into a strange and lonely land can awaken and liberate.

I will always have my trapped bird itches, and I’m guessing you will, too. But I think it’s not because we want to escape from anything or anywhere or anyone, but because we need the feeling of going into something again, of wading into a new ocean, of moving into a glass house and being around people who can see our truest selves residing there. People around whom we can stop acting, stop conforming, stop unconsciously acclimatizing to. People and places that, for a time, provide a space for our wildest selves to journey.

This piece first appeared on Life Before 30 and is reposted here with permission from the author.

California and climate change

California climate change

Photo: Rennett Stowe

The drought is only a preview of what’s to come.

The current drought that has plagued California since late 2011, has been one of the worst the state has ever seen. According to verdicts gathered by the New York Times, scientists believe global warming caused the recent lack of natural water in the Golden State by 15 to 20 percent. Although the drought was inevitable due to natural climate patterns, it’s believed that climate change has amplified it.

Even harder to comprehend is the fact that as the world continues to warm up, future droughts will be much worse than the current one. The probability of droughts that are on the far end of the spectrum has roughly doubled during the past century.

Wildfires are becoming more intense and frequent.

Hotter temperatures plus a widespread drought is an ideal recipe for fast-moving wildfires throughout the state. It has been noted that California temperatures have been rising and are part of a warming trend throughout the country where warmer winters are becoming the norm, not the exception.

In 2016, 140, 000 acres were burnt by wildfires in Southern California alone. This is a staggering reality since it is almost four times the average amount of acreage that is predicted to burn in a five-year period for this region.

Bad air days are now a major problem.

California has strict air quality standards compared to the rest of the country, but much of the state is still plagued by air pollution. The American Lung Association (ALA) has stated in their 2014 State of the Air report, that six of the top seven regions with the highest ozone pollution are located within California. Los Angeles is the worst, followed by much of the Central Valley. With climate change, these conditions are likely to only get worse, since with warmer days comes more smog, and drier weather causes more dust to rise.

The spread of disease is on the rise.

One of the effects of increased dust in the air is that the spread of Valley Fever is gaining momentum. This potentially fatal disease is caused by inhaling microscopic spores of Coccidioides, a soil-dwelling fungus. Around 75 percent of those who are diagnosed with it live within Central California’s San Joaquin Valley.

In general, the number of reported cases in California is increasing, where more than 4,000 cases of Valley Fever were recorded in 2012. Most symptoms appear as flu-like and will get better on their own, but some cases are severe enough to affect other parts of your body like your central nervous system.

The current El Niño weather patterns are causing flooding and erosion.

Last winter, El Niño was predicted to bring record-breaking rains, and help reverse the drought that was plaguing California for years. Unfortunately, the rains were not above average, but the effects of El Niño did bring higher tidewaters that resulted in erosion and flooding. The ocean temperatures also rose due to increased greenhouse gasses, which in turn increased the sea levels, and caused flooding on land.

Scientists predict that in the next 50 years, these direct effects of El Niño will be the new norm during the years that the storm is expected to take place.

Native fish are going extinct.

California once was home to a flourishing fishing industry, but now sadly, non-native species outnumber the native ones. The decline is due largely to the fact that most of the fish are cold water ones — so these species’ are especially struggling because their streams and lakes are getting warmer because of climate change. It is predicted that out of the 121 native species, 82 percent will go extinct in the near future because of climate change.

But there’s hope and new climate change laws are in place.

Governor Jerry Brown has recently created a new campaign to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. Although California had ambitious goals already in place to decrease 1990 levels by 2020, this new plan makes regulation even more effective. This new campaign includes using renewable energy more, placing more electric cars on the road, curbing emissions from main industries, and improving energy efficiency.

That’s a great initiative, but we need to keep going. A good place to start is at the voting booth this November — only vote for the politicians who believe the facts. Climate change is real and only those who are devoted to addressing it should hold a public office.

8 restaurants that prove Atlanta is totally underrated

Photo: neeel

Photo: neeel

The first time I went to Atlanta was in July. If you’ve ever been in the city over the summer, you’d know exactly why people refer to it by the charming, misery-evoking name of “Hotlanta.” My game plan was simple – soothe the temperature discomfort by having lots of great food. Check out the 8 spots that completely made my trip a success.

You can check all of these spots out on Matador Network’s travelstoke® app and add them to your own trip planning lists.

1. Southern Art and Bourbon Bar

 Southern Art and Bourbon BarAtlanta, United States70 types of bourbon. You read that right, seventy. How about this fun fact: Art Smith, SABB’s chef, used to work for Oprah for 10 years. Pretty cool, but what I was most impressed by was the battery park cheese melt, the rosemary dijon cornish hen and the twelve layer red velvet cake. (Needless to say, I had to be carried out after eating all this, so make sure you go with someone who won’t leave you sleeping at the table. If they do, just order another burbon upon waking up & repeat.) #southern #fine-dining

2. Desta Ethiopian Kitchen

 Desta Ethiopian KitchenAtlanta, United StatesIf you had asked me what I knew about Ethiopian cuisine before going to Desta, I would have said a big, fat zero. Not that I learned any specifics or anything after the giant plate of lamb fir fir, but I know Ethiopian cuisine is da bomb. Go for a “very brave” KITFO if you wanna do it right. If you’re on the timid side, choose the lamb tips with injera. (The menu has a small dictionary section on the left side, so you can communicate in a far-from-perfect-but-I-tried Ethiopian). #ethiopian


 ECCOAtlanta, United StatesTrendy spot with delicious European food. As American as I’ve become living in the US for the past 7 years, the continental soul in me slips into automatic bliss as soon as the waiter brings out the duck leg confit and I quickly go into a Cinderella-type nap after a piece of Ecco’s opera cake. Oh, don’t forget – you’ve got to start the whole odyssey with a plate of meats and cheeses to share! #fine-dining

4. Nicola’s Restaurant

 Nicola’s RestaurantAtlanta, United StatesTalk about dinner with a show! Come to Nicola’s on Saturdays between 8pm and 10:30 to see the fabulous belly dancing performance. If you’ve never had Lebanese cuisine before, that’s cool. Order some falafel to start with (obviously!) and grape leaves with yogurt. Chase it with a dancer’s plate (available for vegetarians). If you’re with the fam, go for the family style platter for a no-brainier choice of traditional goodies. #dinnerwithashow #lebanese #cheap-eats

5. Vortex Bar & Grill

 Vortex Bar & GrillAtlanta, United StatesLow-key burger bar with good whiskey. Good music and an excellent option when you crave nachos (holaaaa, borracho nachos!), tater tots (I’ll have 2 orders of the Dixie wrecked taters ASAP pronto, please!) and obviously a good burger. I like the Black & Blue (Cajun all day, baby). If you’re feeling ambitious, order the Zombie Apocalypse. You’ll need lots of napkins and luck for that one. Probably a whiskey, too. #burger #cheap-eats

6. Cooks & Soldiers

 Cooks & SoldiersAtlanta, United StatesBasque cuisine in Atlanta, what-whaat?! Having lived in Spain previously and tasted the original, I can tell you Cooks & Soldiers is goood. The pinxos are an absolute must-have. I ordered the caña klasikoa, barbakoa vaska (beef braised with kalimotxo, I’m sold) and the tortilla de chorizo. For main, I went with the pescado (local fish grilled with mojo rojo and fried garlic). Enjoy! #spanish #fine-dining

7. Ray’s In The City

 Ray’s In the CityAtlanta, United StatesRay’s is a small chain of upscale seafood restaurants. When I was in town for a trade show, I went to Ray’s in the City and enjoyed it thoroughly (like, scraping off the leftovers from my family’s plates, that’s how much). In the summer, there’s a special type of salmon that’s local to the region and the chef prepares in a special recipe. Get it if they have it, it’s worth it. If it’s off season, I recommend starting with the crispy point Judith calamari, followed by either the crispy shrimp and grits or the horseradish encrusted black grouper. Ray’s has different “blue plates” for each day of the week, so check them out as well. #fine-dining #seafood

8. Alma Cocina

 Alma CocinaAtlanta, United StatesGreat Mexican food. The ceviche collection keeps me coming back. My personal favorite is the himachi (jicama, serrano, green onion, celery, sesame, apple aguachile) which I follow with pan roasted scallops. I’m seriously considering booking a flight to Atlanta from Barcelona as I wrote this…tip: #mexican see if seating outdoors is available. #fine-dining

The definitive matchup: Los Angeles versus Seattle

Seattle photo: Tiffany Von Arnim. Los Angeles photo: aepg

Seattle photo: Tiffany Von Arnim. Los Angeles photo: aepg

I’ve had the good fortune and immense pleasure of living in Washington for decades and California for half a decade. As a whole they’re remarkably similar. Both have super varied environments – from deserts to old growth to epic Pacific coastlines. Both have strong traditions of farming, tech, military.

But the distinctions become laughably sharp when we look at their biggest cities, Seattle and Los Angeles. These cities are opposites and awesomely so.


LA too damn hot and sunny for its own good. This is a blessing, of course, but as the sun beats down and dries out everything under the blazing blue dome of the sky the moisture is sapped from the sparse thirsty soil and creates an evil layer of dust that fornicates with car exhaust and broken dreams to form a ubiquitous black grime that settles on every surface far and wide.

329 days of sunshine is pretty nice though…but eventually you miss weather and the fluffy texture that clouds bring to the sky.

In SEA it doesn’t rain as much as you might think, but it’s overcast and dreary and drizzly and rainy for a solid 5 months a year with periodic lapses of sunshine when the population scurries outside squinting like mole people and try to warm their soggy skin before the grey curtains of clouds close back in.

BUT when late spring rolls around (and it always does my friends, it always does) a green paradise matriculated with swollen rivers and perfect blue bird afternoons emerges from the gloom. The Summer/Fall is in the PNW is epic. All that water that was falling from the sky is now lakes, bays, creeks and trees and oh snap, it’s 80° and the sun doesn’t set until 10pm!


WA / CA  both have deserts, forests, wetlands, mountains, volcanos, coastline and old growth. WA has the distinction of having a rain forest (fitting huh?) and CA is home to Death Valley, the hottest place on earth (134° at Furnace Creek, recorded in 1913). The vastness of LA is hedged by desert, ocean and sun blasted mountains and the small footprint of SEA is hedged by forests, bays and rain drenched mountains. They are opposites.


SEA is smaller than you think. LA is bigger than you thought.

SEA’s downtown is a prominent feature of the city, fringing the shore of Elliot Bay.

LA’s downtown is usually viewed from several miles away as a tiny island of high rise buildings obscured by haze and swallowed up by a sea of urban sprawl. Traversing LA is a herculean feat and after an hour or two of driving I feel physically drained and I develop a terrible vampiric jonesing for In-N-Out Burger.

The sheer number of cars on the road piloted by frantic, frustrated, stressed out, tired, high, deranged and delirious drivers is staggering. Try not to dwell on the fact that you are in constant competition with at least a half million people at any time, like a rat running a maze of filthly concrete towards some distant slice of discarded pizza. SEA has a population 1/6th than that of LA and as far as major US cities go it’s actually quite small, and more importantly, it feels small. The neighboring communities make the whole footprint considerably larger but the city of SEA is only 84 sq. miles.

Compare that to LA’s 469 and the city of angeles dwarfs the city of emeralds.


LA is unlike any place I’ve ever been in that people are flocking here from all corners of the multiverse. LA is a nexus of dreamers and seekers, arriving to make it big or just make a better life. The Latino influence obviously can’t be understated – there is no LA without Mexico and Latino culture. More Spanish is spoken in LA than English, or so I’m told. I’ve lived in Hollywood – West and East – and the culture in this neck of the city is a bit strange but it’s also very cool. I know only living in the Hollywood area limits my experience and understanding of LA considerably but I try to make up for it by exploring the wider city when I can. Ultimately, if feel like if you can handle the heat and the traffic and the trash and the crime and the humans then LA is a pretty awesome place. You just have to find your niche, the neighborhood that you love and can barely afford. There is a surplus of distractions and art and collaborators and schemes, you just have to find yours.

The Pacific Northwest has a distinct vibe… if you’re imagining a Seahawks fan decked out in nauseating neon green and blue 12th man gortex paddling in a kayak next to Orca you’d be pretty close. But if you imagine a hipster millennial slurping a Rainier listening to some OK band in a dive bar or a tech start-up CEO working from a Starbucks, or an University of WA student or a longshore worker lining up at the Union Hall …you get the idea. SEA’s culture is a consequence of nature, history and (more and more),art and tech. Seattle has been generating music and art and rebellion since its early days and nothing has changed. There is a small riot or insurrection every couple of years.

I think the fact that the sun goes to sleep around 4 in the afternoon all winter and it doesn’t matter because it was raining anyways has been a tremendous generator of art and food and culture. In the months when you’re not frolicking in the green splendor of the summer you have to do something. SEA’s is a product of PNW ethos and the psychic and physical pressure of the surrounding environments.

WA and CA share the undeniable West Coast spirit that celebrates relaxation, good vibes, personal freedom and a love for life.


LA perfected the food truck and tacos are what the fuck is up.

SEA is where you go to eat salmon when you’re not in Alaska.


SEA: black, layers, North Face, rain resistant, fashion forward in a dapper or hipster sort of way. It drizzles half of the year and nobody but tourists carry an umbrella.

LA: light, shorts & flip-flops, sun’s out gun’s out, fashion forward…or not. The styles of these cities are predicated on the weather and the culture. LA is either hot or warm. On a sunny day in SEA it could rain three times. The culture in LA is hard to pin down, there is no one culture…it really depends on which corner of the colossal city you’re observing. SEA’s style is easier to conceptualize and seems to fall into several archetypes; the casual PNW native in a flannel or t-shirt and blue jeans, the nature freak decked out in REI, the hipster (skinny jeans, beanie, jean jacket blah blah blah), the 12th man, the business/tech pro, the frumpy yokel, the boho artist, the leftover Occupy protester/panhandler.

If you live in Seattle then according to this asshole your style probably falls into one of these categories.

What pisses me off most

CA – My food while driving through the Central Valley.

WA – Conservative yokels that I went to high school with.

LA – The crazy drivers who want you dead, constant cacophony.

SEA – Rental prices, the Bertha fiasco.

Fave place outdoors

CA – Redwood National Park + Joshua Tree.

WA – Olympic National Park + Mt. Rainier.

LA – Any beach when the surf is good. Topanga State Park.

SEA – Volunteer Park, Burke Gilman bike path


In LA it is notoriously difficult to get people to commit and actually attend an event or party. FOMO in a city like LA is constant menace; what if there is a better/cooler/closer party with better music and cooler people and more drugs and, and, and…let me check Waze… fuck! the traffic is terrible! You’ll have 500 people ‘interested’ on your FB event page and 5 show up…You can’t blame people…the thing you were interested in on Wednesday is a cross-city migration against impossible odds and almost certain death on Friday.

In SEA…it may not take an hour and half to cross the city…but people act like it does. That said, people are not nearly as unintentionally flakey as they are in LA. BUT overall, it’s easier to meet people and make friends in LA.

Firstly, there are waaaay more people in LA, so the odds of finding a kindred spirit are high (getting them to drive across town to meet you are however not high). It’s a very social city and people are generally open, if not opportunistically so. I’ve heard SEA can seem to have a cold shoulder, the ‘Seattle Chill’’, I haven’t experience the chill but I’ll concede Seattleites are not as warm as Angelenos and I would chalk it up to weather.

8 foods and drinks that New York City made famous

Photo: Teresa Lai

Photo: Teresa Lai

Editor’s note: These spots are all taken directly from travelstoke®, a new app from Matador that connects you with fellow travelers and locals, and helps you build trip itineraries with spots that integrate seamlessly into Google Maps and Uber. Download the app to add any of the spots below directly to your future trips.

General Tso’s Chicken

 Sammy’s Noodle Shop & GrillNew York, United StatesBig and simple dishes- this could easily be the best general Tsos in Manhattan. Also, not sure why, but there is never a massive crowd, so really good for a quiet lunch in the village #cheap-eats #chinesefood #greenwich

Named after a famous 19th century Chinese general from the Hunan province, General Tso’s chicken in its current and most popular form originates from Manhattan in the 70’s. Chef Peng Chang-kuei first served the slightly sweet, tangy, fried dish that American’s know and love at his restaurant on 44th Street. A stone’s throw from the UN, international dignitaries would visit the restaurant and chef Peng’s very non-traditional dish was beloved by Henry Kissinger. Another New York classic that can be found across the five boroughs, General Tso’s is at its most delicious at Sammy’s Noodle Shop.

Black and White Cookie

 Glaser’s Bake ShopNew York, United StatesClassic Nyc bakery full of goodies. The black and white cookies and rugelachs are wicked tasty. Get one of each and a black coffee for the best experience #bakery #newyork #cheap-eats #coffee

Although its roots might be in Utica, NY, this 110-year-old delicacy can be found up and down Manhattan (and in many bakeries across the country) thanks in part to a scene from Seinfeld that aired in 1994. “I love the black and white. Two races of flavor living side by side. It’s a wonderful thing, isn’t it?” Yes, Jerry. It is. For one of the oldest versions of the Black and White Cookie, check out Glaser’s Bake Shop, which has been selling the cakes for almost a century.


The youngest entry on the list, this briny whiskey chaser was first popularized at the Bushwick Country Club by bartender Reggie Cunningham in 2006. Originally, the idea was to use McClure’s pickle juice to eliminate the harshness of Old Crow whiskey (the cheapest shot available), but it only took a few years before hundreds of New York bars began combining different brines and whiskeys for more selective palettes. Today, you can buy a jar of McClure’s pickle brine for the explicit purpose of chasing whiskey. Humble dive bartender that he is, Cunningham does not claim to be the first person to drink pickle juice with whiskey, but that he “definitely invented selling it in New York.”

Bagels with Lox

Bagels are a traditional Jewish baked good from Poland, but when they reached New York their popularity really took off with the addition of brined salmon, a specialty of Scandinavian immigrants. Add some English cream cheese, Italian capers, tomatoes, and onions, and you have the Melting Pot’s favorite breakfast sandwich since the 1950s. Today you can get a classic bagel with lox (the Yiddish word for salmon) at Ess-A-Bagel (now on 1st Ave).

New York Strip Steak/Eggs Benedict

 Delmonico’sNew York, United StatesNothing like a classic Nyc strip steak. This is spot has more history than just about any other restaurant in New York, yet the food still feels new and intoxicating #fine-dining #classy #nycfood

No restaurant name is more storied than Delmonico’s, which has existed at a variety of locations under a number of owners since its first incarnation in 1837. Originally a downtown restaurant founded by the two Delmonico brothers, “Delmonico’s” has been applied to speakeasies, hotels and multiple restaurants in New York over the years. The influence of this single venue is tough to measure, as it has produced several famous dishes and restaurateurs, but it perhaps is best known for the Delmonico Steak (also known as the New York strip) and the creation of the Eggs Benedict (circa 1862 by chef Charles Ranhofer), both of which are still on the menu at the current Delmonico’s location on Beaver Street.

The Manhattan

 Bemelmans BarNew York, United StatesNothing more swank than this spot. Good for a date who loves live piano and handmade murals. Also the cocktails (particularly the Manhattans) are superb #fancy #classicnyc #manhattan #livemusic

There have been claims that this dark and dry whiskey drink was first stirred up for a NYC party in Lady Randolph Churchill’s (mother of Winston) honor in 1874, but it is far more likely that it was invented at least a decade earlier. Some sources credit a “man named Black” who bartended at the famous Hoffman House Hotel. For a similar atmosphere for imbibing this historic beverage, try Bemelman’s Bar at the Carlyle Hotel.

New York Pizza

 Lombardi’s PizzaNew York, United StatesThe birthplace of coal oven zas. The Pepperoni and mushroom pies are dope but beware: these slices must be folded to be eaten (but ain’t the the point?) #pizza #bytheslice #cheapeats #traditionalfood #thisshitrighthere

There is a difference between a New York slice and the greasy, melty, tomato-pasty pizza that hucksters across America sell- other than being made in NYC- and that is the coal oven. It was a New Yorker named Lombardi who, in 1905, invented the coal-oven style pie that you always thought came from a small picaresque town in a pizza-obsessed region of Italy. And when he did it in Lower Manhattan’s Little Italy, he probably didn’t think he was creating a national treasure that is still being baked by his family over 100 years later. Obviously, you should go to Lombardi’s for the most authentic New York pizza experience.

Hot Dogs

Make to NYC in the middle of the summer and you might find yourself sipping a Brooklyn Lager at a sports bar watching the World Series until, without warning, the bartender changes the channel to an event featuring “athletes” sliding whole hotdogs down their gullet. This is the legendary Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest, where each contestant attempts to swallow as many all-beef franks and buns as possible. It was at Nathan’s where America’s love of the hotdog began in 1916, when one Polish-Jewish immigrant named Nathan Handwerker decided to load his frankfurter into a bun and munch, and it is here where the heart of American hotdog fandom remains.