In his first installment of his new GQ column, chef David Chang predicts bologna will be “the next bit thing.” You know bologna, that cold, thick-sliced processed meat that you sometimes found between two slices of bread in your lunchbox as a kid. The Momofuku chef is all about it.
“Right now, if I had to wager on what might be the next pork belly or kale salad, I’d put my chips on bologna.”
But Chang isn’t exactly talking about the Oscar Meyer bologna variety, he’s talking about “artisanal” bologna. He goes on to argue that for bologna to taste delicious, it should be sliced thin; or, if it’s sliced thick, it should be served hot. He says,
That childhood bologna—you know, the kind in the yellow package—is cut way too thick. Believe me, even the best mortadella sliced like supermarket bologna would be gross cold, too. The basic rule when serving bologna cold is: Slice it as thin as possible.
Chang argues that we have craft doughnuts, beet pickles, and beef jerky, yet no one is doing artisanal bologna. He calls the American lunch standby a “blank canvas of pureed meat ready for inspiration to take hold.” He says,
“At an Auburn tailgate last season, I ate venison-and-pork bologna. At Momofuku Ssäm Bar, our Duck on Rice dish uses a duck bologna made with Chinese five-spice powder.”
What comes to mind when we think of “artisanal bologna” is Mortadella, which comes from the city of Bologna, Italy. Now, mortadella is one cousin of bologna we can seriously get behind. About mortadella, Chang writes, “The case for great bologna starts with mortadella, the mother of all fatty whipped-pork sausages.”
But Chang thinks we should stop focusing on Italian salumi and start experimenting with and embracing American bologna. Remember, this Chang dude was responsible for seeing the potential of ramen, and elevating its status in America. Thanks to Chang and a few other pioneers, ramen is now a serious craze in the U.S.
So, when Chang says duck bologna made with five-spice powder served over rice is delicious, we trust him, and when he calls the next big food trend, you better believe we’re paying attention.