What did your mother pack in your lunchbox? Mine sandwiched bologna
between two pieces of white bread, and often threw a slice of pickle
in for crunch or contrast or because she didn’t know what else to do
with the pickles she bought on sale. It was never about the pickles.
My first boyfriend taught me how to buy meat from the butcher, helped
me overcome my neurotic fear of the cleaver-wielding kid behind the
counter at the Ukranian deli. He sliced the ham thin, like parchment
paper, so thin that if you held a piece to the light you could see
God. We had been dreaming of this ham all day, had skipped breakfast
and lunch for it, had run three blocks from the train station in rain
to get it before the butcher shop closed. We shared just one slice on
the walk home, careful to save enough for our sandwiches, idly
debating which condiments we’d use this time.
At some point in my youth someone told me where ham comes from. This
animal may or may not supply whatever results in bologna; I’ve never
figured that out. I have sympathy for pigs, having fed them at petting
zoos. And I have watched them slow-roast over a spit and tasted their
crackling, fire-black skin. But when their meat sits between two
pieces of dull bread that pig’s life is wholly justified. We are all
feeders, and eaters, primal things.
photo Sebastian Piras