July 22, 2005

The new Whole Foods store in our area opened on Wednesday of this week, and being the diligent reporter of what's happening locally, I joined about seventy thousand other Baton Rougans to see how it was. To be honest, there's nothing substantive to share. It's just a big store with a good but expensive selection of produce, meat, and cheese, not to mention a highly diverse selection of olives and nuts.


It does remind me that I have some fauxlogna (my word for fake, soy based bologna) in my fridge. Fauxlogna is a suitable substitute for bologna on a sandwich, where you have at least cheese, bread, and mayonnaise to camouflage its natural flavor.

As a solo food, it is not nearly as appealing. First of all, it is pretty much brown instead of pink. I know that's because it isn't full of dye, but it is still pretty ugly to look at.

Second of all, it stinks to high heaven. I don't know what they do to make it taste sort of like real bologna, but it doesn't leave a pleasant aroma in its stead.

Brown fauxlogna, next to pink ham on my kitchen counter.

But heck, real bologna doesn't smell all that great either. From what part of a cow or pig does the "bologna" cut come? Could I even go to a butcher and ask for a bologna?

Of course the answer to that second question is no. Bologna isn't real meat. We all suspect that the process at the Oscar Mayer plant is something like this:

  1. Take the lips and brains and other byproducts from making real meat, and put them into a giant blender.

  2. Turn on the blender, and add water and a mix of chemicals. Mix until you have a giant tub of slurry.

  3. Pour the slurry into thin, perfectly round molds.

  4. Heat, chill, or let the chemical reactions happen, until the bologna slices are solid.

  5. Put in packages.

This is one of the reasons that I started eating fauxlogna. I know that most people don't even think about these things while they eat, but sometimes the content of your food gives you a startling reminder.

A few years ago, we had a family reunion in North Louisiana. We grilled hot dogs for lunch. The dogs came in a big cardboard box of a zillion for six dollars. I had a couple.

Somewhere in the middle of my second hot dog, I bit down on a bone chip. It wasn't a broken tooth, it was a bone left over from the original cow or pig.

For dinner, a local barbecue place brought sausage, chicken, beans, and potato salad. You won't believe this, but halfway into a sausage link, I hit another piece of bone.

If you're getting pieces of bone in your meat, then you know you're also getting the tendons and ligaments and other tissues that hold muscle and bones together. If the meat is near the digestive track, then you know the slaughterhouse workers are getting bits of stomach, which leak stomach acid into the food. Near the intestines, they get pieces of intestine, and sometimes, the semi-digested pre-shit oozes into your food.

All of a sudden, fauxlogna doesn't sound quite so bad, does it?

Bon appetit.