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Fried Bologna, An All-American Classic
Some friends and I are standing around wasting time when the talk turns, as it often does with men our age, to food.
Food has become our default topic of conversation, you see. We’re all good friends and want to remain that way, so we stay away from politics and religion. We’re in our 50’s so we’ve come to terms with the fact that we don’t know anything about women and never will, making it silly for us to pretend we do. For conversation that leaves cars, sports, music and food. We all drive trucks, not all of us are sports fans and we’re all pretty much agreed on the music we like, so you see where we wind up.
So, anyway, we’re yammering away about Foods We Used To Love when someone mentions an old favorite that gets a rare unanimous vote of enthusiastic assent. I am speaking, of course, of …
The legendary Fried Bologna Sandwich.
Among people of a certain age (mine) in a certain part of the country (this one), the fried bologna sandwich ranks as one of the top three sandwiches at all time, along with the bacon, lettuce and tomato and the peanut butter and dill pickle. OK, that last one is still open to some debate.
Anyway, the mere mention of a fried bologna sandwich will cause eyes to close in bliss as faces stretch into broad smiles of fond remembrance – Mom standing at the stove, turning the slices with a granny fork and then placing them, perfectly browned, onto a bed of soft white sandwich bread.
This is where we diverge. Some like our fried bologna served with a generous lashing of mayonnaise. Some prefer mustard. And some are purists like me, needing only the meat (ok, meat product) and bread to make their meal.
(A note: Although spelled bologna, the sandwich meat is always pronounced baloney. I think the spelling rule evolved as a way of separating those who are full of bologna from those who are full of baloney, which is something else altogether.)
Now, what’s funny about this conversation is that while we all love fried bologna sandwiches, none of us are eating them. They are consigned to kidhood and memory, which is another way of saying “the era before we knew what exactly went into bologna.”
For us, fried bologna is part of the Good Old Days Continuum, along with Mister Softee ice cream trucks, Bullwinkle cartoons and sandlot baseball.
Food is, of course, one of our strongest memory triggers, and we are heading into the season where memories mean so much to us. The smell of onions and celery sautéing in butter transports me instantly to the farmhouse up home, and I am for that brief moment a boy waking up on Thanksgiving morning. A pan of baking gingerbread cookies and I am once again with my brother and sisters, each of us armed with a cookie cutter, fighting for territory on a rolled out piece of dough.
So it is with the mention of a fried bologna sandwich. It isn’t really the food we miss. It’s the time before we obsessed over fat and sodium, when the only things you had to worry about were your grades and whether that girl in Mrs. Shoemaker’s class liked you like the guys said.
(As it turned out, she didn’t. What a bunch of baloney.)
© 2010 Mike Redmond. All Rights Reserved.
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