We must have been out of the room when Ohio staked its reputation on fried bologna sandwiches. Either that, or Chicago Tribune correspondent Tim Jones is just full of it.
"Ohio is not Silicon Valley," Jones perceptively noted in a recent Tribune article, filed from the Ohio heartland. "It's more like Sodium Valley, which has made fried bologna sandwiches the state's signature contribution to the Midwest's culinary peculiarities."
Who knew? We've occasionally spotted the humble lunch meat at the bluest of blue-collar watering holes; but not once did we realize it was Ohio's signature dish.
As it happens, Jones' conclusion is based on his visit to the tiny town of Waldo (population 330), just north of Columbus, where the G&R Tavern has been featuring fried bologna sandwiches since the 1960s. He's not the first outsider to stumble upon the small-town oddity: A few years back, both CBS and the Travel Channel documented Waldo's passion for fried lunch meat. But far as we can tell, he is the first reporter to elevate the sandwich to the status of state icon, overlooking such contenders as fried Lake Erie perch and Cincinnati five-way chili in the process.
To drive home his thesis, Jones points to the concession stands at Jacobs Field, where he claims the sandwich, promoted as "a childhood staple," sells for $6.99, fries or chips included. That too was news to us. So we put in a call to Jason Beudert, operations manager for sports services at the Jake.
"We pride ourselves on serving the highest variety of foods, including certain signature items like the Slider mini-burgers," Beudert tells us. "But fried bologna sandwiches? It hasn't come to that point yet."
In the meantime, don't miss Jones' next Tribune exclusive: "Pizza: Mexico's Taste Sensation."
This Pig has flown . . . Tremont's Flying Pig Barbecue Company has closed, and word is, a Thai restaurant will soon be taking over the Jefferson Avenue space. In Akron, meanwhile, Jacob Good was shuttered abruptly on May 14. The upscale restaurant, which opened in late 2003, had been owned and operated by hospitality vet Tracy Roadarmel, who previously launched Peter Shear's in downtown Canton. That eatery has been in the custody of Roadarmel's ex, Kim Kuipers, for the past two years and continues to do brisk business. -- Cicora