Fried bologna and white bread
Posted: Wednesday, July 16, 2008 9:13 pm
By: By Lisa Smartt
I admit it. I love fried bologna. White bread? Absolutely. Deer jerky? Bring it on. Green beans cooked with ham hock? A thousand times yes. Homemade biscuits. Fried squash. Fresh tomatoes and a salt shaker. Moon Pies. Purple hull peas. Cornbread. Fried apple pies. RC cola (fully sugared). Corn on the cob. Fried green tomatoes. Grits. I love it all.
I’m going public with my love for good ol’ southern cuisine. Before you ask your doctor to call me with a verbal reprimand, let me clarify my position. I’m not recommending that you eat fried food every day. I’m not saying fried bologna and white bread sandwiches should be a staple in your family’s diet. I’m just suggesting you tell the truth. Go ahead. Admit it. You love fried bologna. You crave cornbread and pinto beans. That doesn’t make you a bad person. It doesn’t insult your intelligence. It means you appreciate the fine nuances of living in the Rural South.
Not everyone agrees with my positive opinion of redneck food. In fact, some folks are dead set on convincing the rest of us that we should be “above” some of the culinary treasures of southern living. Their effort to lead us astray is why they put chopped up grapes in chicken salad. It’s why they serve cold pea soup, hard rolls, rice salad, turkey spaghetti and tiny cucumber sandwiches. Then there’s pâté. Pâté is goose liver which has been cooked and smashed together with goose fat and/or pork fat until it makes a lovely gray paste. The gray paste is then smeared on a cracker or a hard piece of cold toast. Yeah. We’re all supposed to act like we’re just CRAZY about crushed goose liver mixed with fat. But we’re supposed to turn around and act totally disgusted with fried bologna. A haughty set of misguided priorities, if you ask me. Too much Martha Stewart. Not enough Grandma’s common sense.
I’ve been to parties where my plate was filled with mango rice, a cold hard roll, goose liver paste and a cucumber sandwich with pepper relish. I smiled and acted like I was enamored with such food. That’s called being polite. But I expect the same good manners from the high-brow crowd when they come to my house for our annual fried bologna cook-out. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. (Pardon the pâté pun.)
Moral to the story: Your personal food choices don’t identify you as being “above” or “beneath” any of the rest of us. Does goose liver and mango rice thrill your heart? That’s perfectly fine. But it doesn’t qualify you for a Nobel Peace Prize. Do you love fried bologna and Wonder bread sandwiches? Embrace it! And guess what? You can still become the CEO of Microsoft some day. No one reading a job application will ever say, “I don’t know. This guy seems like a bologna eater and I have the sneaking suspicion he eats peanut butter right out of the jar.” No. Trust me. They’ll never know. My husband grew up eating possum, coon and anything that was killed or died a natural death in front of his house up in the cove. The fact that he ate fried squirrel and used an outhouse didn’t disqualify him from getting a PhD. This is America, remember?
Editor’s note: Lisa Smartt’s column appears each Wednesday in the Friends and Neighbors section of The Messenger. Mrs. Smartt is the wife of Philip Smartt, the University of Tennessee at Martin parks and recreation and forestry professor, and is mother to two boys, Stephen and Jonathan. She is a freelance writer and speaker. Her book “The Smartt View: Life, Love, and Cluttered Closets” is available at The Messenger, The University of Tennessee at Martin bookstore or by mail for $10, plus $2 shipping. Send checks to Lisa Smartt, 300 Parrott Road, Dresden TN 38225. She can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Published in The Messenger 7.16.08