Originating in Bologna, Italy, bologna has become synonymous with Newfoundland over the years. It has even earned the moniker “Newfoundland steak“, at least in Atlantic Canada. A great example is this famous scene from Atlantic Canadian TV show, Trailer Park Boys.
Also known as baloney, Newfie Steak, or the proper “bologna sausage” in Britain, this delicious and versatile food has a place in the hearts of many Newfoundlanders.
Specifically, Newfoundland steak refers to the food in a sliced and fried or barbecued form, similar as to how one would prepare a normal steak. With Newfoundlanders being the butt of many jokes about being foolish, dumb, or cheap, implying that we would use bologna as an alternative for steak fits the narrative perfectly.
History of Bologna in Newfoundland
How does a food which originated in Italy become so popular in Newfoundland?
Nobody knows for sure, though one version of the story claims that with Newfoundland trading salt cod to Italy, bologna may have made its way to the island in the 1600s on a return trip.
Perhaps it was versatility, perhaps it was the low price, or maybe we just have good taste. Whatever the case, Newfoundland has rightly earned its reputation of loving bologna. For many, Newfoundland steak was a staple in the house when growing up.
Maple Leaf Canada (one of the most beloved bologna brands in Newfoundland) suggests that 60% of bologna sold Canada-wide is bought in Atlantic Canada. Quite impressive for a region that only has about 7% of the country’s population. Of that 60%, nearly two thirds is sold in Newfoundland! An island with roughly 500,000 residents consumes over 2 million kg (4.4 million lbs) annually.An island with roughly 500,000 residents consumes over 2 million kg (4.4 million lbs) annually. Click To Tweet
How to Eat Bologna
While bologna was well-known as a cheap meat once upon a time, the price has increased over the years. Still, sales remain strong.
Most of Canada and even all of North America considers bologna to be in the “lunch meat” category. But in Newfoundland, and perhaps all of Atlantic Canada, we know that limiting bologna to be eaten only between two slices of bread is severely underutilizing the potential of this all-purpose protein.
Bologna is manufactured in long, cylindrical-shaped logs. You can purchase these and slice on your own if you’d like. Alternatively, at various grocery stores, delis, and convenience stores, you can buy pre-sliced bologna. Often, you can even order it sliced to your preferred thickness.
Because it is pre-cooked, Bologna can be eaten either raw or cooked. Newfoundlanders and Labradorians enjoy it in a variety of ways.
Methods of Preparation
- Raw slice – Need a quick snack? Grab a slice in your hand and enjoy.
- Bologna sandwich – Raw slice of bologna with your choice of condiment(s) such as ketchup, mustard, or mayonnaise. Some people add other things like lettuce or cheese, but that’s getting a bit fancy.
- Fried – Newfoundland steak style, commonly done at breakfast.
- Barbecued – Just as you can barbecue a steak, you can throw a slice of bologna on the grill. Makes a fun shed or drinking snack.
- Bologna, gravy & boiled potatoes – What else do you need to know? Check out this recipe. Generally requires thick-cut bologna.
- Campfired – Heat to your liking over an open fire, just like a wiener or marshmallow. Just don’t drop it in by accident.
Despite bologna’s overwhelming popularity in Newfoundland, it is somewhat of a home food than a restaurant food. Some local restaurants do have it as a meat option with breakfast alongside bacon or sausage.
In this, another Trailer Park Boys clip, you can see a log of baloney, a meat slicer, and learn the basics of assembling a baloney sandwich.
Newfoundland Bologna Culture
Being such a popular local food, bologna has a strong part in Newfoundland culture.
In fact, some Screech-In ceremonies even include eating Newfoundland steak as part of the ritual. This is in addition to kissing the cod and drinking a shot of Screech rum.
There are a variety of bologna brands available, but for years Maple Leaf has had a stronghold on the Newfoundland market. Elaborate marketing campaigns included radio contests searching for the “Wild Bologna”. Their mascot, Mr. Big Stick Bologna, makes regular appearances at parades and community events. Two local entrepreneurs even created Big Stick bologna Christmas ornaments which sold out immediately.
— CBC Newfoundland and Labrador (@CBCNL) November 30, 2014
What Does Newfoundland Steak Taste Like?
We spent all this time talking about how great bologna is, but forgot to discuss what it tastes like. We hope you’ve had the opportunity to try it before, but if not, this section is for you.
Bologna is made from ground chicken and pork products, with some spices and flavoring added. It shares similarities in texture and taste with hotdogs. Though historically quite unhealthy, brands such as Maple Leaf, who have shifted towards more natural products, have widdled down their bologna ingredient list a fair bit to include only natural ingredients. That said, as with most processed foods, bologna is high in sodium. There is also a high saturated fat and cholesterol content, so enjoy in moderation.
From brand to brand, each will have its own variances in texture and flavour, though the concept is the same.
Simply put: bologna is tasty. Just as you’d expect a high-fat high-salt food would be.
Usage in Screech-Ins
As we mentioned previously, some Screech-In ceremonies include eating a small piece of bologna as part of the ritual. Even though it is a generally likeable taste, it’s not for everyone. Anybody in the midst of a Screech-In ceremony is already vulnerable and nervous over the impending Screech drink. So, it’s not uncommon for them to be put off when served a “mystery food” on a toothpick. Try one of the aforementioned methods of eating bologna and we’ll be shocked if you don’t love it.
With our love for Bologna, did you really think the list of how to eat bologna stopped with only a handful?
Thanks to local chef Kevin Phillips, a complete bologna cookbook is now a reality featuring over 400 recipes.
His creations include bologna caesar wraps, cheesy bologna calzones, bologna stroganoff, and many more. All delicious ways to eat Newfoundland steak, no doubt!