Saturday, September 6, 2014
Hardee's Balogna and Velveeta Special!
Fried bologna, Velveeta 'cheese' on one of their signature biscuits.
Angel didn't actually want one, neither did Adam.
I had to know.
So early on Saturday (9:30 A.M.), I ventured out, I needed to go to the post office anyhow.
We had bologna quite often. We didn't call it that so it feels weird spelling it with a 'g' and ending it with an 'a'. So I am going to revert at this point to the colloquial, more familiar 'baloney'.
We had baloney quite often. My great uncle, O.C. Dyer* ran a store across from my grandmother's house. We lived with her for most of my first twelve or thirteen years.
Whenever we needed something Mom would send one of us to the store for it. Uncle O.C. had a huge ledger on the counter where he entered names and amounts, you could run a tab there. So all we had to to was to grab what we needed, or a pop, (soft drink) or occasionally a candy bar and take it up to the counter and he'd just write the amount down in the big book. I suppose he billed the folks later.
It was an old style store, two gas pumps out front, a big cooler for pop, a few isles of produce ad canned goods. There was even a hardware section, nails, screws, nuts and bolts, etc. There was a revolving toy rack and a candy section. The latter two is where I spent much of my time and meager allowance.
Off to the left was a full deli counter. A huge, shiny meat slicer and a widowed cooler that held all kinds of meats in cheeses in bulk form.
When we got baloney, it wasn't in a package, it was sliced to our desired thickness.
And lo, it was good.
Dad would fry some occasionally, cutting four long slits so it wouldn't concave so much as it cooked, then just plop it on a plate, usually with a fried egg alongside. I don't recall ever making a sandwich with fried baloney.
As for cheese, I don't have distinct memories. I believe we had American singles, but I don't recall a brand.
We had cold baloney sandwiches fairly often. Baloney sandwiches were cheap and easy to prepare, my mom's favored form of meal.
In the store itself, on any given workday, local laborers from the nearby sawmill would go to O.C.'s store for lunch. Baloney on a saltine was quite common, with a drizzle of hot sauce.
So yeah, I'm quite familiar with baloney. Even today, with all my wealth and class, having long escaped the thin times of my youth, I still enjoy a simple baloney sandwich. White bread, Miracle Whip, a sliced tomato a couple of slices (because it is so thinly sliced these days) of baloney and a slice of American cheese.
That's lunch on any day.
As for Velveeta, I certainly knew about it when I was young, I even liked it. But we could rarely afford such extravagances. Back then, name brands like Oscar Mayer and Velveeta were pretty much as unattainable as Rolex and Ferrari, and Oreo.
In Hillsboro, Hardee's is the anchor for all other eateries. It's been there longer than most and sits on a prime location, visible from all directions, right beside one of the county seat's few traffic lights.
It's a popular place in the mornings, a favorite of many elderly groups. They congregate and read a paper or just talk and laugh among themselves over a cup of senior discount coffee.
I used to go there quite often on Saturday mornings myself. My book, some coffee and a sausage and egg biscuit with a side of tots.
Then I started this whole 'eat better' regimen a year or more back and my tastes and tolerances changed. The stuff there started to leave me queasy and irritable. It no longer tasted good like it once did. Now when I go out and have breakfast it is at a place that uses real eggs, real bacon, real hash browns. I can stomach that. Something fast food places use or do always leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth and a distinct and unpleasant series of noises from my tummy.
But, I knew I had to give this new offering a try, for the sake of educating you, my loyal fans.
I had the coupon, I offered it up to the young lady with the headset. She punched eleventy-three buttons,
"For here, coffee, and you better throw a sausage and egg biscuit on there as well." I shouted quietly.
The extra biscuit was in case the baloney and cheese proved to be awful.
I waited, holding my book. September is 'Translated Japanese Crime Novel' month for me.
I went ahead and sat down after a while at a table beside a window and positioned my plastic number, 56, pointed toward the counter. Hardee's delivers to your table if you make them.
It arrived pretty soon, the thin young lady seemed pleased with her gift to me. "Can I get you anything else?" She pleasantly offered.
I declined further services, plucked a napkin out of the dispenser and started unwrapping things.
Sure enough the baloney was thin, wafer thin and there was only one slice. Well okay. The Velveeta looked like it had been put on the biscuit with a backhoe. It was piled high, gloppy, dripping out the sides.
I studied it, analyzed it, and bit in. Yep, baloney and Velveeta. Nothing wrong with that.
Then it hit me. That metallic, greasy taste in my mouth.
"Eureka! It's the biscuit!" I shouted in my mind.
I had two more bites to make sure I could recall it later. I then shoved it aside and unwrapped the spare biscuit. It was better, but still I could taste it, a sickly bitter taste. Two bites, maybe three, then I pushed it aside as well.
At least I had the tots and coffee.
The coffee was as old and bitter as my sister.
At least I had tots.
So I tossed them back one at a time as I read. Most of them. A strange noise emanated from my belly.
"Eureka! It's the tots!" I shouted in my mind.
I couldn't sit there any more, I was no longer enjoying this quiet round of Dennis time. I closed my book, gathered my trash, dumped it and left.
Awful, simply awful. By the time I got home I was full-on nauseous. I just can't eat this fast food crap anymore.
But at least it was good to reminisce.
*I only ever knew him as O.C. that's what everybody called him. It stood for 'Ovit Crawley'.