A pressed luncheon meat with its own holiday? Hogwash! Poppycock! Or more appropriately: Baloney! Bologna, colloquially pronounced “baloney,” is a seasoned tube-shaped meat found most often sliced and served between pieces of bread. But despite its humble reputation, a slice of bologna is so much more than a flat hot dog.
Bologna is loosely patterned off mortadella, a large, smoked sausage that originated in Bologna, Italy, in the 15th century. Modern bologna iterations take a variety of forms, but one thing remains constant: We love/hate to celebrate it, as some love its humble ways while others think it's blah... or worse. But it certainly is iconic.
National Bologna Day – October 24 – is an unofficial holiday designed to shine a culinary spotlight on this lowly meat. Here are a few ways to celebrate...
1. Eat Bologna Cake
Bologna cake wasn't on the menu at the last gala you attended? No worries, you can make this celebratory meat cake in your own kitchen! Simply mix a block of cream cheese with ranch dressing, and then layer the concoction between a dozen pieces of thick-sliced bologna. Complete the cake by “icing” it with the filling and top it with decorative swirls piped on using a can of pressurized cheese. Voila! A bologna cake perfect for any special occasion, such as National Bologna Day.
2. Rhyme With Bologna (We Dare You)
Anarchy and starchy don't rhyme, nor do bisque and risque, despite their similar spellings, but pony and bologna do, at least in the U.S. After all, English is weird, at least for American English speakers hampered by a language that pulls from many other tongues. Without all these linguistic English peculiarities, the Italian pronunciation of bologna would more closely resemble the sausage or the Italian city that bears the name. If you say "boh-lone-ya" rather than "buh-lo-nee," expect curious looks.
3. Order an Artisan Sammich
In this age of artisanal toast (and everything else), it only makes sense to order a fashionable hot bologna sandwich. Chicago's Au Cheval not only makes its own bologna in-house, but thinly slices it before crisping it on the grill. This gourmet bologna is then topped with cheese and layered until it towers between two soft buns. At nearly $11, it's a splurge of a sammich worthy of National Bologna Day.
4. Make a Bologna Boat
Never eaten a bologna boat? For the uninitiated, this delightful concoction consists of a piece of bologna fried on one side so that the edges curl into a shape that resembles a bowl. Into this “bowl,” aficionados deposit a scoop of mashed potatoes and a slice of American cheese. The finished product, a bologna boat filled with stick-to-your-ribs potatoes and cheese, was once a mainstay of Middle America school lunches.
Wondering why bologna curls so willingly when crisped? It all has to do with the casing that doesn't contract and the fat that renders out of a slice of the meat as it is fried, causing the bologna to form the ideal receptacle for cheesy potatoes.
5. Forget Bologna Day, Try Bologna Days
If you thought October's National Bologna Day was reason to celebrate, then we can't wait to tell you about Bologna Day, a weekly occurrence in many of the small towns that dot the Minnesota landscape. Although the day of the week varies from town to town, the basic structure of this homage to bologna remains constant.
On Bologna Day, people gather around tables at local restaurants, grab their forks and eat all the bologna they can handle. It's a cultural phenomenon that's been taking place since Germans settled the area in the 1850s, and is so ingrained in local life that some municipal websites list official Bologna Day information.