Fried baloney (bologna) sandwiches, not for taste — but nostalgia

If you are what you eat, I am a fried baloney sandwich, because that’s what I just had for lunch.

You’ll notice I used the word “baloney” instead of the more proper “bologna.” I know the rules require the word “bologna,” but “bologna” — pronounced “bologna” — seems too high-falutin’ to get shoved in between the words “fried” and “sandwich.” A fried “baloney” sandwich just seems right. And not high-falutin’ at all.

(Speaking of which, what is falutin’, anyway? Where did this word come from? How does it work? Can anyone falute? If you can have high-falutin’, doesn’t it stand to reason that you can also have something low-falutin’? Really, anyone can worry about the meaning of life. These are the sort of questions that keep me up at night.)

Fried baloney (or bologna, for your purists and copy editors) shows up in my diet about once a year. I’ll be going along, minding my own business, having my usual lunch of leftovers or something, when whammo! I’ll be hit by a craving so profound you’d think I was expecting twins. And nothing will do but that I satisfy it.

So off to the store I go for a pound of thick-sliced b(-aloney or -ologna) and a loaf of gummy bread, the makings of your proper fried you-know-what sandwich. And the bread has to be gummy. None of that hearty peasant seven-grain stuff here.

Fried baloneyogna requires — no, demands — something spongy. Your average grocery store white bread will do fine. Whole-wheat will work if it’s soft enough. Best will be if the bread comes in a package with red, yellow and blue balloons and builds strong bodies 12 ways (I wonder if you remember those bread commercials, Baby Boomers?)

Making the sandwich is simple, but it does require a practiced hand to properly cut slits around the edge of the baloney/bologna, ensuring that the alleged meat stays flat in the skillet while browning. Otherwise it puffs up in the middle, looking like a little lunchmeat sombrero and browning unevenly, and we can’t have that.

When sufficiently brown (the smoke detector will let you know) you marry the ingredients and then you will truly be recreating the fried baloney-bologna sandwiches of my kidhood …

Which is the whole point, I think. It’s not nutrition, that’s for sure. Or fine eating.

When I crave a fried baloney (oh, all right, bologna) sandwich it isn’t for the taste. It tastes pretty godawful, if you want to know the truth. Sort of like a flat, scorched hot dog.

No, this is for the nostalgia.

It’s remembering what it was like to come home in the middle of a school day (back when kids could do that because a lunch hour was just that, an hour, and not the 15 minutes or so they allot these days) to find it on your plate. It was a regular in Mom’s lunchtime lineup, along with tuna salad, Welsh rabbit, grilled cheese, creamed chipped beef and the ever-popular peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Grape jelly on that last one, please. Or Mom’s homemade black raspberry jam.

So what kicks off this craving? No idea. But I know how I feel after I’ve had my sandwich. A little nauseated, sure, but also full of memories of lunchtimes long ago. And that’s a nice feeling. No baloney. Or bologna.