When I was about 8 years old, my father, the eternal prankster, told me that he had a harem of wives back in Iran. Naturally, I was in shock and told my best friend who told her mother and eventually it got back to my dad. While laughing uproariously, my dad called me a “sweet but gullible girl.” Now that I think back, I suppose I really was someone who saw the world through rose-tinted glasses, an idealist who believed that people were inherently good and honest, a dreamer who thought everything was coming up roses, a Pollyanna that could never claim a glass was anything but half full.
Fortunately (or unfortunately), as I've aged, the pessimism has slowly set in. After years of life lessons, I've become a doubter, a critic, a skeptic and an unbeliever. From the panhandler on the corner to the national political spectacle, I have a difficult time accepting the stories or their well-rehearsed rhetoric. Health insurance companies claiming how much they care, angry individuals who troll the internet with the sole purpose of making others miserable, retail businesses pushing us to buy during the holidays claiming it's the only way to show someone you care, politicians touting that they'll make all our troubles disappear … don't we know they're all full of baloney?
Mmm … bologna.
The only kind of baloney I am willing to tolerate is the kind I slap between two pieces of bread with mayo and mustard. I don't care if it's unhealthy to still love this highly-processed, sodium-laden, pressed-meat product of the 50s. It's delicious.
Have you tried the fried bologna sandwich at Mason Hereford's Turkey and the Wolf? If not, it is past time to skip the highfalutin, fancy-pants restaurants and head on down to Jackson and Annunciation in the Lower Garden District for a bologna sandwich that will blow you away. A thick slice of Leighann's bologna is fried and topped with gooey American cheese, hot English mustard and crisp house-made potato chips served between freshly baked and toasted white bread. Made by people who are sticklers for the details with a passion for good food, there ain't no baloney in this bologna. Finish that lunch off with a bowl of vanilla soft serve ice cream with sprinkles, and even with a tip, you won't break your budget. Plus, you'll get all the nostalgia that any person needs during one lunch hour.
If you want it straight from the source, you can get a taste of Leighann Smith’s bologna at Piece of Meat, a pop-up that frequently appears at places like The Tchoup Yard or Mick's Irish Pub. Leighann hails from kitchens like Cochon Butcher and Dryades Public Market, where she honed her charcuterie and meat-making craft. Follow her on Instagram @pieceofmeatbutcher to catch her next pop-up, and try the Homemade Bologna Sandwich with grilled bologna, onions and American cheese on a fresh bun for only $9! You could add her White Trash Mac Salad to the mix and still stay under budget.
Over in the French Quarter at Evangeline, they have a slightly different slant to their version of this home-style classic. Bury your fears in a Blackened Bologna, thick-sliced and served on a kaiser roll dressed with American cheese, Crystal-mayo, Creole mustard and jalapenos. At only $11.95, you can pair your Creole-style sandwich with a killer craft brew like Canebrake Wheat Ale or Santo Black Kolsch and make it a dinner to remember.
If all else fails, you could certainly make groceries and pick up a package of Oscar Mayer (“My bologna has a first name...”) or, better yet, a half-pound of Seltzer's Lebanon Bologna at Stein's Deli on Magazine Street, and fill yourself with bologna at home.