”The best way to die is sit under a tree, eat lots of bologna and salami, drink a case of beer, then blow up.”
~ Art Donovan
We can’t necessarily agree with that touch of madness above, but we can understand their dedication to Bologna. When most of us think of bologna, we think of the smooth off-pink meat that comes with the red ring of plastic around it at the grocery store. While it’s true that this is one type of Bologna, most people are unaware that there is an entire range of bologna, and that it’s all named after the country of its origin. Bologna Day is your chance to learn a little something about this traditional lunch meat and where it came from.
History of Bologna Day
We know that most of you consider bologna to be a childhood favorite lunchtime meat, but there’s so much more to it than just that simple meat. Bologna can be made from any number of meats, including beef, turkey, venison, chicken, and even a vegetarian soy protein. What makes bologna is the seasonings used in its preparation, a combination of nutmeg, black pepper, coriander, allspice, celery seed, and the secret ingredient, myrtle berries. This final ingredient is what gives the meat its distinctive taste, and it also happens to be found in mortadella.
There are a few common forms of bologna, though most of us are familiar with the pre-sliced variety. If you’ve ever seen Kielbasa than you’re familiar with the shape of Ring Bologna, though it is completely different meat. Ring bologna is commonly sliced and used as a topping on crackers, though it is also occasionally pickled to help aid its storage.
Rag bologna comes in the form of a long stick and is typically sold in a swatch of cloth, hence its name. Unlike rag bologna or sliced bologna, it has a much higher fat content and texture, being made with milk solids, spices, cereal, and flour to help give it bulk. Finally, it’s put through a bath of lactic acid and then coated with paraffin wax.
If the only bologna you’ve ever had is the sliced bologna, then Bologna Day is going to be a special occasion for you!
How to Celebrate Bologna Day
It all starts with a nice serving of bologna in the morning, and we suggest having it fried with an egg and toast on the side. Later in the day, you can indulge in a traditional bologna sandwich, and we usually make ours with mayonnaise and mustard and not much else. Once you’ve had these two dishes, it’s time to expand your palate with a dive into the other forms of bologna. If you can find it, we especially suggest South African Polony, but it’s often hard to find in the United States.