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What could my “healthy” sense of competition have to do with defining bologna? Well, no fewer than a dozen types of garden produce (plus a dozen egg-laying chickens) can be found at my parents’ casa in Ojai, CA, where I spent the holiday. What could I bring them from our hometown of New York that could possibly compete with stupid jerk white kale chips so tender and flavorful they brought a tear to my eye? Or ultimate comfort food akoori, made with eggs still warm from the chicken’s butt? Don’t tell me how they actually come out, I want to live in ignorant bliss.

My semi-redemption came from Zabar’s in the form of their housemade Kosher salami, otherwise known as Kosher bologna, seeing as it tastes vastly more like bologna than salami. As you can imagine, one food-obsessed child experienced great confusion until she decided they were more or less the same thing, provided they came in red shrink-wrapped packaging. That child also grew up to live across from Zabar’s, because they have the best olives, which I also painstakingly selected a pound of and packed up for the journey. A marble rye, dozen rugelach and bag of Kossar’s bialys later, I was ready to board a plane and please the dickens out of those folks of mine. That bologna/salami is my mom’s favorite, and you can’t even get the bad stuff in …whatever that region of California is called. You must really love kale and eggs to defect to a deli-less land.

Now, to determine what you have when you say you have bologna, from best case scenario to worst. You’ll need yellow mustard for the last four, so get on that. 

  1. You have taken control of a Northern region of Italy. Send us a care package.
  2. You have a specimen of processed Kosher beef sausage approximately half the diameter of traditional bologna with at least three times the flavor and none of the less savory bits ground in. This goes nicely on seeded rye or thick-cut white sandwich bread.
  3. You have a brand-name deli meat made of pork which goes nicely on a roll, right on the cusp of bologna and baloney. The difference is like crab and krab.
  4. You have a brand-name pack of deli meat which goes nicely in jokes and clichés.
  5. You have something worse than that.

So, having about 16 ounces of the second best case scenario on-hand, we made sandwiches. And I made a great “joke” about how pointless it is to have yellow mustard in the fridge with no source of decent bologna. 

More on the meats of lunch at Food Republic: