never always on the lookout for potential new Food Trends, and given bacon’s years-long chokehold as a Trend Meat, feels like high time something new stepped up to the plate. Turns out, David Chang answered this highly specific call in his new column for GQ, in which he makes a fairly convincing case that bologna deserves its own chance at overwrought ubiquity. Or at least, thoughtful production and inclusion in legitimate recipes.
“Right now, if I had to wager on what might be the next pork belly or kale salad, I’d put my chips on bologna,” Chang writes, noting the lunchmeat’s oft-forgotten connection to classic Italian mortadella. He goes on:
“It’s a blank canvas of pureed meat, ready for inspiration to take hold. You can make it from duck, veal, chicken, pork, beef, and a variety of game. You can smoke it, use different spices, change just about anything about it. At an Auburn tailgate last season, I ate venison-and-pork bologna. At Momofuku Ssäm Bar, our Duck on Rice dish uses a duck bologna made with Chinese five-spice powder. […] The problem right now is that there is no such thing as artisanal bologna. This blows my mind—we have craft doughnuts, beet pickles, beef jerky…but no bologna? This needs to change.”
Well, why not. We’re not necessarily dying to see bologna or “bologna-infused” concoctions pop up on every single New York menu for the next five years, but it deserves a fair shake just as much as anything else, especially given that most of us have only encountered it in the context of less-than-stellar Oscar Meyer slices. Plus, if someone were to re-imagine Lunchables with this new, better bologna—homemade crackers, high-quality bologna, a sharp, hard cheese that wasn’t made by Kraft—we bet that’d be pretty good.
Follow Virginia K. Smith on Twitter @vksmith.