There is nothing better than a fried bologna sandwich. Well, of course, you know that’s not true. Lots of things — like a good steak or some juicy ribs — are better.
But when you’re broke and can’t afford a hamburger, much less a steak or ribs, a fried bologna sandwich (let’s call it FBS for brevity’s sake) is pretty tasty and a great value.
I bought some bologna at the supermarket and ate two FBSs this week. They took me back to my days at St. Ambrose College — now called St. Ambrose University — nearly four decades ago.
The first two years in college, I could run home to Mom and Dad’s house between classes at lunchtime and eat with them. Or, since I lived with them then, I could pack a decent lunch before leaving for the day and eat on campus. I even had some money in my pocket at that time to buy a hot lunch at the food service in the student union if I wanted to.
But that all changed halfway through my four-year college experience: Sherry, who attended Marycrest, and I got married the summer before my junior year. We were two 20-year-olds with a full load of classes and only part-time jobs. We had lots of love but not much money.
There wasn’t much food in our apartment for packing lunches, and there wasn’t much money for buying them. (For years Sherry and I often walked around with only enough coins in our pockets to make a phone call if our cars broke down, which they often did.)
Once I was married, I didn’t run home to my parents for lunch very often because they had been among the people who had suggested Sherry and I put off our marriage until we had graduated. They had said that getting married as full-time students with part-time jobs would be tough. It was, but I wanted to show them we could, indeed, make it on our own.
One lunch hour at school, I saw some other poverty-stricken student order an FBS at the food service, and it was a fraction of what they charged there for a burger.
I tried one, too, and I was hooked. I ate a lot of those my final two years at Ambrose.
I can tell you’re itching to try one. Rest assured, an FBS is easy to make. You take two slices of bologna and fry them until they start to get burn spots on them and curl up around the edges. That means they’re done. This only takes a couple of minutes.
You then slap the pieces of bologna between two slices of sandwich bread, add mayonnaise, yellow mustard and a slice of cheese if you like. The FBS is ready, and you have a quick, warm, tasty — and above all, cheap — lunch.
Life is a lot easier for Sherry and me these days. College — and our early years of poverty — are distant memories. The part-time jobs between classes were long ago replaced by full-time jobs that we’re not that far from retiring from. We still have lots of love and, despite raising four children to adulthood, we have a heck of a lot more money than we started out with.
These days we can pack a decent lunch at home to take to work, or we can buy a burger or something better for lunch if we prefer.
But this week, just for old time’s sake, I went back to fried bologna sandwiches for a couple of lunches. And they sure brought back a lot of memories.
Copyright Nov. 1, 2006. This “Everyday People” column appeared in The North Scott Press, Eldridge, Iowa.