A Meditation On Salami.
Tangier than bologna, rounder than ham, exoticker than turkey, salami has never gotten its proper due. Which is sad, considering that salami IS THE GREATEST LUNCHMEAT IN THE WORLD! If I seem a little overenthusiastic, it is perhaps because salami has so many detractors. Why? For starters, the name: salami. It sounds stupid, like a reject from the Seven Dwarfs. Sleepy, Grumpy, Salami.
Or like an acronym for something else. SaLAMI: Sandwich Lovers All Make It. That’s a terrible example of what the acronym for salami could be, but I think you get my point.
Also, salami seems to awaken the xenophobia in people. It’s kind of Italian, but kind of New Yorky (Jewish), and it seems like exactly the kind of food that terrorists might enjoy. One could easily imagine a group of bearded cave dwellers gnawing on hunks of salami while plotting the demise of the Great Satan. Of course, one could also easily imagine that same group juggling bowling balls on the moon, for the simple reason that imagining stuff is easy.
(A quick note: I’m not ascribing any superhuman juggling abilities to terrorists. Far from it. If anything, juggling bowling balls on the moon would be considerably easier than here on Earth, due to the moon’s lower gravity. Besides, terrorists probably hate juggling, because juggling is one of our freedoms.)
Probably the biggest modern objection to salami is that it falls into that category of foods made from the leftover parts of other foods. A piece of salami, mottled in various attractive shades of pink and white, is like some kind of Frankenstein creation: a little beef, a little pork, and a lot of other stuff. Horse lips, for example.
Well, if salami is merely a hodgepodge concoction from whatever is left on the slaughterhouse floor, then give me a broom and tell me where to start sweeping, because salami, for all its faults, is delicious: salty, greasy, and just the right amount of chewy. It’s no wonder that the word “salami” is also informally used in baseball circles to describe a grand-slam home run. It’s just that good. What other lunchmeat can make that claim? Never will liverwurst be used to describe anything other than liverwurst.
And salami is versatile. Yes, it’s a sandwich staple. But it’s also great with scrambled eggs. And fabulous on pizza. How about as the foundation for a killer antipasto salad? Or simply rolled up and savored with my favorite: a tall, room-temperature bottle of Bud Light!
Also, salami doesn’t spoil like other luncheon meats. Try leaving a pound of ham outside on a hot day for a few hours. See what happens. Actually, I’ll tell you so you don’t waste food: it goes bad. Salami just gets more delicious. And more warm.
Some people think salami is bad for you. Yes, it’s high in the kind of fat that gives people heart attacks, but I compared the life expectancy of Italians versus the life expectancy of United States of Americans. Guess what I discovered? Italians live longer! Why? Because salami is literally the only thing they eat over there!!!
(Another quick note: We both know that Italians eat other foods besides salami, but I felt like it was OK to use a little “dramatic license” here. For the record, Italians also eat spaghetti and cannoli.)
Now I know salami isn’t “cool.” “Cool” people like that pretty girl from Boston Legal aren’t sitting around in their yachts in Beverly Hills snacking on salami. So what? Being a celebrity myself (very famous), I know a lot of those so-called “cool” people, and let me tell you something: a lot of them are very unhappy. Is there a correlation between their unhappiness and the lack of salami in their diets? I’m not saying yes. On the other hand, I am most decidedly not saying no.
All I’m asking is that the next time you find yourself brown-paper-bagging it, you give salami another look. Maybe you’ll walk away from the experience with a shrug. So be it. But maybe, just maybe, you’ll finish up that lunch with a smile on your face, the kind of smile that announces to the world, “Either I just ate a salami sandwich or else I’m wearing a little too much lip gloss.”
SUGGESTED READSThis Week’s School Lunches
by Peter Bebergal (2/28/2000)
Come Join Our Prayer Group-Slash-Cheese Tasting-Slash-Orgy
by Jon Methven (9/22/2010)
Alternate Names for Ruth’s Chris Steak House
by Colleen Werthmann (3/22/2000)
RECENTLYCat Performance Review
by Kendra Eash (9/18/2014)
An Excerpt from Cabinet Magazine, in Honor of the McSweeney’s/Cabinet Combo Subscription
by Katherine Hunt (9/18/2014)
826 Chicago at Pitchfork: Twin Peaks Talks Breaking a Leg, Blu-rays and, Band Advice
by 826 Chicago (9/18/2014)
POPULARClassic Movies Changed to Not Be Sexist
by Blythe Roberson (8/14/2014)
Best Joke Ever: Mitch Hedberg: Hippie Martian Zen Genius
by Mark Peters (8/28/2014)
It’s Decorative Gourd Season, Motherfuckers
by Colin Nissan (10/20/2009)