Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Votes and Balogna (sometimes they go together?)

Here's an interesting article I read (most) of recently regarding privacy and Snowden's "whistle blowing" actions. I don't necessarily agree (or disagree) with everything (or even anything) said in the article, but this in particular caught my mind:
"In every country in the world that holds meaningful elections, Google knows how you are going to vote. It's already shaping your political coverage for you, in your customised news feed, based upon what you want to read, and who you are, and what you like. Not only does it know how you're going to vote, it's helping to confirm you in your decision to vote that way – unless some other message has been purchased by a sponsor."
Rather interesting: that Google already "knows" how you will vote, and helps you confirm your voting tendencies (by suggesting articles to read). Another segment of the article discusses Facebook (and other social media sites) can track not only your interests, but what articles you're looking at, when you look at them, etc. (you know all those "like" and "share" buttons? Just a little script behind them to track your web journey into their database). I already find it a bit disconcerting that advertising follows things I've recently viewed on Amazon or Google, but never really thought about aggregation of my various browsing data (outside of Google's keeping my history available across all devices and computers I'm using, such as pulling up that article link via Chrome's history tab on a different computer than the one where I have it open upstairs).

It's a long article, but interesting to read (break it up if you need to; I did). I haven't read all the comments (only a few), but they are interesting as well, and show some definitely differing opinions.

So, on to balogna. Today I had a really good balogna sandwich for lunch (or maybe I was just hungry). I always liked balogna, but one time I had a really, really good balogna sandwich, made from real Bolognese. Most people assume that bologna (the sausage/lunch meat) is called that because of its origin in Bolgna, Italy, but few realize its original creation, which I'll document here.

The Bolognese breed appeared in Italy around the 1200s. It's a toy dog, playful, easygoing, and loyal. Over the next couple hundred years, the dog became a favorite throughout Italy, and every family had at least one, usually several, and breeders were to be found all throughout the country (although the highest population remained in Bologna). In fact, there was an overpopulation of the little dogs, and soon they were running through the streets as strays, nearly wiping out the cat and small rodent population throughout central Europe.

Then the famines started. First in the early 1500s in Venice. People became desperate, and soon the family pet became the family brunch, made into a sausage so as not to recognize the familiarity of, say, Fido's leg. It wasn't very good at first, but the people in Bologna, familiar with the breed, found ways to best flavor the sausage, and the "Bologna sausage" actually became a delicacy in the region. With the overabundance of the Bolognese in the streets, alleyways, and all around, the famine came to an end. In respect to the service the dogs provided, the Bologna sausage was kept on the menu, but reserved a special place as a delicacy, and when served in restaurants, always had its own page on the menu, usually with an "in memoriam" dedication. Source of the meat was never disclosed, and the assumption spread that pork was the base ingredient.

When the famine of 1680 hit Sardinia, an estimated 80,000 people perished before the widespread news of the famine hit the mainland and the Bolognese population was high enough to support the loads of Bologna sausage necessary to end the hard times. A huge advantage to the Bologna sausage was that the meat didn't have to be preserved for shipment - it could be carried live to the island on ships, and owing to its small size, the ships could transport lots of the critters (even small ships), and the sausage could be created on the island. Many don't realize, but this was also the beginning of the "lunch cart" business (although it was more of a handout than a business at the start), as the ships would arrive at the island with the live Bolognese, which would be made into Bologna sausage at kitchens near the docks, and the sausages would be loaded into carts and carried to the interior of the island and handed out. This was also the first instance of the "lunch meat" variety of Bologna sausage: in order to quickly hand out the sausages to the mobbing people, the sausages were cut into slices and thrown, frisbee style, the the crowds. This allowed the sausages to be "handed" to both those swarming the cart as well as those further away and unable to reach the cart (due to the crowds). They weren't used on bread as sandwiches at this time (famine, remember? no bread!), but were served up like "mini-steaks."

The famine in Naples in 1764 was short lived; quickly responding to the situation, the Bolognese (citizens) put the Bolognese (dogs) to work right away, marching themselves down to Naples and right into waiting kitchens, where they were made into, according to most accounts, the best Bologna sausage the region has ever known. However, after learning of the source, the citizens of Naples publicly thanked the Bolognese (the people, not the dogs) in a press release that, unfortunately, caught the collective eye of French and Spanish citizens, who objected to the use of "that kind of meat" in a sausage for human consumption. This was to be the end of the original Bologna sausage. To avoid public outcry, Bolognese were no longer used in the production of Bologna sausage, and instead alternatives (usually pork with lard, although other ingredients are used from time to time as well) are used for its production.

However, every once in a while, you can find a shop that will give you an "original Bologna sausage" - and that, my friends, is a real treat that you should never overlook.

* note: this is satire; Bologna sausage is, of course, not made from little Bolognese doggies. Or is it?