Mother Lish’s Bologna Sandwich, a recipe from Gordon Lish

  1. First check the refrigerator to make certain none of the following are in there: lettuce, butter, margarine, mustard, ketchup or mayo.
  2. Remove the jar of mint jelly from the cupboard. (Marmalade is an acceptable substitution.)
  3. Your bread should be of the diet variety, well-aged and adequately chilled. If the counter is wet, place two slices of bread on it. Press down with the heel of your hand to make sure they lie flat. (If you experience some difficulty in separating two slices of bread from the rest of the loaf, rap the loaf smartly on the edge of the counter.)
  4. Never use presliced bologna. Your bologna should be of the sausage type, with good stout rind on it. Working with a dull knife, hack off what you need. What you’re aiming for here are pieces of bologna that display a certain ragged configuration.
  5. Spread mint jelly on one slice of your dampened bread. On the other slice, distribute chunks of bologna. Lift jellied slice up, jellied side up and lower it over the other slice. (If jellied slice sticks to the counter, use screwdriver to pry it off.)
  6. Still working with the same knife, halve the finished product, cutting from one corner to the other. (Bread should come apart into a number of small pieces all by itself. But if this does not occur, start over again.) Serve immediately. (If this is not possible, store in freezer for later use.) keeps indefinitely if wrapped in a brown paper bag with a rubber band around it.)

From “The Day Mother Invented Junk Food” by Gordon Lish. The full piece was published in The New York Times, 2 Aug. 1978. Thanks to David Winters for sharing it with me years ago.

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