Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Pork Roll, the other cookout meat


All Hail Pork Roll! For those of you not familiar with this glorious "meat", allow me to introduce you to the alternate to the hot dog or hamburger at the next picnic (that's what we call 'em in NJ). Why do I wave the pork roll flag high in the air? It's the famous food from Trenton NJ, my official birthplace. The fact that I'm a carnivore, and this treat was born the same place as yours truly is no cosmic surprise.

Pork Roll is one of those comfort foods that while growing up as a finicky kid was on the same culinary playing field as minute steaks and macaroni and cheese (the frozen kind you bake in the pie tin vs. Kraft). It comes in this canvas-like roll that is sliced off and fried up, put on a kaiser roll, often with cheese and mustard (spicy is best). Most popular optional use of pork roll is with an egg for breakfast. The best I can describe the taste is... a spicy spam-like ham variant - it's got a similar tasty zippy kick like a hot dog, but it's a ham foundation.

High school summers were spent working the grill at my neighborhood WaWa market/convenience store, with one location near the Congoleum plant (they made porcelain thrones and more). I'm whipping up Pork Roll, Egg, and Cheese (on a Kaiser Bun) for the guys coming out of 3rd shift who are eating dinner at 7am. NOTE - Ween made a song titled as such, you can see the video on you tube.

On my seasonal trips to NJ, I still pick up a couple 4 or 6 slice packs. I've only been allowed to cook and eat Pork Roll sandwiches when alone because the smell, taste, and name offend any citizen from outside the NJ/NY/PA area, including my poor husband. To this day, I have been unsuccessful in recruiting any newbie adult age pork roll fans. Try interviewing anyone to see if they've ever eaten pork roll AND like it, and you'll find a native of that tri-state area. I think you have to be raised on it to enjoy it, there's tons of businesses who specialize in mail order pork roll. Feel free to share your pork roll stories here, you'll find a shoulder to lean on with me - especially those of you who have to resort to the internet to order it.

For those interested, Wikipedia gives an impressive lowdown of the culture and history of Pork Roll.

6 comments:

Brian Grossman said...

While I cannot think of a more efficient way to deviate from the gastronomic principles of my "religious brethren", I find myself longing to join the ranks.

Bringing leftovers to the office soon?

-Brian

dreisbach5501 said...

Hey Dawn your cousin Jim here I'm all for pork roll,on the grill or on in the frying pan. layered on a AMOROSO'S roll and covered witn provalone cheese like a steak sandwhich only better, and don't forget SCRAPPLE it's breakfast nervana.Fried brown and smothered with syrup

Dawn Haley Morton said...

My friend Tami's Aunt Jackie (by default is my aunt too), is disgusted by the idea of mustard on Pork Roll. She votes for ketchup all the way. Stay tuned for a blog entry on "Red and Yellow Only Rule".

mb said...

Ok, I'm a native of central PA, and I have to say I've never heard of "Pork Roll"... until now. And not to offend, but it doesn't exactly sound appealing to me. How different is it than fried bologna? Not that I've ever eaten fried bologna... but I did grow up on sliced bologna and cheese sandwiches. And I can attest that not all deli bologna is created equal. I think Petrazani's little family market in Osceola Mills, PA (where my Grandparents lived) had the best bologna... my preference (at least when I was a kid): sliced thin in a sandwich with white American cheese. Mmmmmm...

Now, did someone say "scrapple"? Crisply fried scrapple - that certainly brings back childhood memories. I think I was the only kid out of four in our family who would eat it - just me and Dad when he fried it up for breakfast once in every great while... though I liked it with ketchup.

- Maribeth

Vinman said...

Dawn, got to go with Ketchup here. Plus you failed to give props to the "Trenton Burger". That's a burger, slice of grilled Pork Roll, and American Cheese and ketchup (of course). For those of you unfamiliar with the delicacy, it's NJ's version of Taylor Ham. Anyway, make sure it's cooked. A friend I played softball with moved here from Florida. A good natured neighbor welcomed with a loaf of Pork Roll. He didn't know any better and was eating it un-cooked (yuck!) It needs to be fried or grilled. By the way, I vote Case's the best.

Carl Luthke said...

Dawn,
I have to agree with vinman on that..I need ketchup on pork roll..put pork roll on a kaiser roll with cheese and ketchup.. smoke a cigar and you are set..I am sure that vinman will agree that you can die a happy man after that. Never had it with mustard.