There's an episode of Pee-wee's Playhouse in which Pee-wee is talking about how much he loves fruit salad, and Miss Yvonne says that if he loves it so much, maybe he should marry it. So he does. Now, I like a guy with the courage of his convictions, but for me, well, it's about bologna sandwiches. Had my wife Joanna not moved back when she did ... well, let's just say that my wedding reception would have had to have crazy-good AC to keep my in-laws from spoiling.
To be honest though, it's not just bologna. Bologna's sister, salami, is shit-hot, and even their snobby cousin roast beef is super fine (particularly snuggled up with some red onion and cheddar cheese). But bologna gets the worst lunchmeat rap. Meat bigots will tell you how a few bucks a pound can't possibly buy something worth eating. "And just look at it," they'll say. "Why, it comes in a tube!" But if you peer through that same person's kitchen window at one o'clock in the morning while his wife and children are sleeping, you'll probably see him
standing in the
light of the open fridge, eyes glassy with pleasure
while he eats a bologna sandwich, or smiling happily while he folds a
slice up, bites a couple of holes in it, and peers through it like a
mask before gobbling it down. Of course, that might just be me.
why is it that people keep their relationship with bologna a dark
secret? Why all the back-alley bologna transactions, the middle of the
night trysts, the hotel rooms paid for with cash? Much of it likely
stems from the lineage question: What exactly is bologna? Who are its
parents? And is it really just blundered-up lips and ass, like your
patchouli-scented vegan cousin claims?
First of all, bologna is,
in fact, meat. Specifically, a giant sausage. In fact, it bears a
striking resemblance, manufacturing-wise, to a giant hot dog. It's
built from low-value scraps -- trimmings rather than tenderloin --
which are finely ground, seasoned with spices and sometimes a bit of
sweetener, then usually pushed into a casing of cellulose, and cooked.
It's often made from pork and beef, but there's also variations like
100 percent beef and wacky blends that include poultry. Nothing evil
there, my friends, just a powerful blend of meaty goodness in a
six-inch diameter tube, ready for slicing and easily transportable. And
there are strict regulations concerning what can and can't be put into
bologna (though lips are not, as far as I know, specifically excluded
But really, it's just too damn tasty to worry about
all of the lips. I've seen people generate drool streams down to their
waists talking about Publix garlic bologna or even basic Oscar Mayer
(they claim that about 6 million Oscar Mayer bologna sandwiches are
eaten in the U.S. every day). For me, preparation is largely
irrelevant, something you certainly can't say about a steak. A bologna
sandwich is always awesome, whether it's in a sandwich with a full
compliment of vegetables and condiments and surrounded by some 94-grain
bread, or simply slapped between two slices of Wonder Bread and
slathered with mayonnaise. And no pompous foody with a prime meat
complex, or protein-deficient meat-hating trustafarian that claims I'm
eating ground-up lips and ass is going to change that. I took my vows.
few years after Pee-wee married the fruit salad, he was arrested while
leaving a movie theater in Sarasota that was showing a triple feature:
Catalina Five-O: Tiger Shark, Turn Up The Heat, and Nurse Nancy. And
while I may not agree with his choice of marrying fruit salad over a
Bologna sandwich, I gotta give him credit: Three great films for one
ticket price is a damn good way to go.
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Bradford Schmidt is The Meatist. He's also author of the blog Bone in the Fan. He lives in northern Palm Beach County and brakes at all bologna crossings.