A long time ago I wrote a post about the origins of Tex Mex cuisine and other Depression-era recipes. The post was about various recipes that emerged during the American Depression that became staples, in the larger culture or in particular homes. Two Depression-era dishes that are a part of the Beck family are Poor Man's Chocolate Cake (a cake made with vinegar and baking soda and no eggs or milk) and Peas & Gravy Over Toast.
This post is about another dish from my childhood: fried bologna.
I grew up in Western Pennsylvania where bologna sandwiches are a regional specialty (just check out the Wikipedia page), as it is in other Appalachian regions. And when you were trying to stretch a dime during the Depression bologna was often the only meat on hand. With pork chops, roast, chicken, and steak being too expensive you could have hot meat for dinner if you fried bologna. That's what the Depression-era Becks used to do, passing on the dish to later Beck generations. We weren't poor in my family, but bologna sandwiches were a staple of my childhood and I think Mom did fry bologna from time to time when there wasn't a whole lot in the fridge and she wanted to give us something hot.
Jana's family also had fried bologna. So awhile back, when we looking in the fridge figuring out what to eat, I said, "Why don't we fry up the bologna and have fried bologna sandwiches? I haven't had one of those in years." So we did and the boys liked it. Since, every once in a while, we'll have fried bologna sandwiches.
Jana and I were talking about this the other week and she said, "You know, when I mention that we have fried bologna sandwiches every once in a while people have one of two very strong reactions. They are either totally disgusted or they are filled with nostalgia for their childhood."
The Becks are filled with nostalgia, and we salute those Depression-era moms--and the moms and dads today--who stretched those dimes for their families.