Bad is good in small bites

Let’s talk lunchmeat. Seriously. We all have a favorite and we all feel slightly guilty about it.

We should feel guilty because lunchmeat is about as far from the original source of protein as a Twinkie is from a pound cake. Even the leanest roast beef is injected with saline solutions, dyes, and preservatives. Unless you specifically see the deli guy slicing turkey from a whole breast, you are most likely getting turkey parts cemented together.

And then there are the high-fat, delicious salamis, liverwursts, pastramis and baloney.

And I say, so what? Now, I’m not advocating eating lunch meat every day, even though I did eat that strange, cheap, wafter thin “beef” lunchmeat on white bread almost every day in my lunch, from elementary school to graduation. I’m hoping the gazillion tons of preservatives I consumed during those years will translate into a remarkable old age, but I’m probably kidding myself.

Let’s face it, Americans love to sink their teeth into salty, convenient meat. Haven’t you wondered why we’ve seen the onslaught of pre-cooked bacon on grocery shelves? We’re actually getting too lazy to fry up our guilty pleasure. Or, we’re going to let someone else do it. That has to explain the long, patient, serpentine line of customers waiting for a fried meat sandwich at the new location of CDA Food Store Saturday morning. (Yep, I was in it – fried baloney and cheese).

In the past week, I’ve been on a bit of a lunchmeat binge, eating more than I would normally consume in a month. It began at Robinwood Lake Tuesday, when after a couple of hours of soaking up sun and paddling around on floats, I was regretting that I had only packed a can a peanuts.

My friend, Missy, came to my rescue, pulling half of a perfect baloney and American cheese with mustard on white bread out of her cooler. After the first few bites, I wanted to tell her how wonderful that sandwich tasted, with the breeze and shade and sun glaring off the water. But because it was the perfect baloney sandwich, the white bread had become glued to the roof of my mouth, making communication nearly impossible.

The other night we threw a couple of cups of chopped salami into our pasta and tomato salad. And then there was the fried baloney delight from CDA and a bacon, basil and tomato sandwich over the weekend.

So, now I’m going to back off – as soon as I polish off that quarter-pound of olive loaf I bought Sunday…

Lunchmeat is not just for sandwiches. This recipe combines healthy ingredients with fun meat. Maybe they cancel out the guilt. Only you can decide:

Lunchmeat Bread Salad

Serves 4

1/4 cup olive oil

3 Tbsp. vinegar

1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard

fresh ground pepper to taste

1/2 pound of your favorite lunch meat, chopped.  (Fry and drain baloney or mortadella for extra flavor)

3 tomatoes, diced, with juices

1 slightly stale baguette, cut into bite size cubes (if you use a soft French or Italian bread, toast the cubes until light brown before adding to salad)

6-8 radishes, sliced

3 cups baby arugula

1/2 cup shaved parmesan

For dressing, combine the olive oil, vinegar, mustard and pepper in a small bowl and whisk together thorougly.

In a large bowl, toss the lunchmeat, tomatoes and their juices, bread and radishes. Let sit for five minutes, toss again. Add arugula and dressing and toss gently. Place on plates and top with parmesan.


2 thoughts on “Bad is good in small bites

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