As a kid, I was always confused as to why some baloney was spelled bologna. Were they the same thing? Did you have to say bah-log-nah if that’s what the package said?
Bologna, Italy, of course, is the home of this sausage. This old city even has the nickname, La Grassa “The Fat One” honoring its rich, meat based gastronomy.
Located in Emilia-Romagna, the region is also the home of Lambrusco, that fizzy wine that was popular among college kids in the 1970’s, and rarely seen any more on any self-respecting table (or picnic, for that matter). As a side note, the Lambrusco that you get on the spot in Italy is a world apart, more complex and tastier, a perfect counterpoint to the sausages and other delicacies you get in the area.
“Bolognese”, the rich, meat based pasta sauce we all adore, also originated here. A real “Bolognese” is not just a tomato sauce with some ground beef. Rather, it will have a slowly simmered blend of different ground meats (depending on whose absolutely authentic grandmother’s recipe you follow), possibly including veal and pork, and lots of finely chopped vegetables (carrots, celery, onion, garlic) and herbs, sometimes even a dash of milk, with tomatoes as minor players, not the overwhelming star.
And, to be really traditional, you’ll serve that Bolognese with fresh egg-based pasta, perhaps fettuccine or in a lasagna, and, of course, include cheese in or on the dish. That said, nothing pleases myMEGusta more than a bowl of good quality spaghetti (the hard wheat kind, no eggs) with a dollop of this fabulous sauce. And, it’s not bad on spaghetti squash, either.
The ubiquitous baloney we enjoy in the United States is a descendent of Mortadella, recognizable by the fat cubes and pistachios dotting it. There are some very, very good versions of both of these, particularly if you shop for a good brand, some of which are of Germanic descent, or in a deli. Perhaps the old adage, “You get what you pay for” is really apropos here.
I have fond memories of that most pedestrian of lunches, a baloney sandwich with neon yellow mustard on wonder bread. Baloney was such an early favorite of myMEGusta’s, that a favorite doll was named Joanie Baloney. Alas, JB was kidnapped one day by a big, mean dog that Daddy chased for blocks to no avail.
A Saturday lunch treat for my late father was a fried baloney sandwich, and, for a kid in the 1950’s, it was a tasty twist on an everyday meat. That said, a slice of really good baloney style sausage on excellent bread with tasty mustard is a really good sandwich, as exemplified by leberkase I cannot wait to have on my next trip to Munich.
This morning’s passing of Anthony Bourdain reminded me of a recent “Parts Unknown” episode during which he enjoyed a local favorite, a fried baloney cube, in Newfoundland. And, I’ll bet it was delicious.