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.