Mortadella Vs. Baloney


First of all, let’s make one thing clear: baloney (or Bologna) and mortadella have nothing in common- other than a very vague resemblance and the fact that baloney is originally inspired by mortadella. Mortadella is a high-end salume served thinly sliced inside focaccia bread (or piadina!) or cut in thick cubes to snack on with an aperitivo. Would you ever eat baloney cubed? That’s what I thought.

While baloney is made with pork scraps, or even chicken, turkey and beef, mortadella is only made from very finely minced high quality pork and cubes of fat “sprinkled” inside. Shelled pistachios and black pepper grains are then added to the mixture which is stuffed into a casing and cooked in brick ovens. In substance, mortadella is a giant sausage- up to 200 pounds!- slowly cooked and then sliced to serve. The best mortadella is the largest, both in cross-section and in weight, and it will have pistachios in it, as well as the coveted EU seal IGP, Protected Geographical Indication. Yes, because the real mortadella also needs to say “Bologna” on it!

Giant Mortadella

There are two school of thoughts on the best mortadella serving. One says that the best mortadella is sliced paper-thin and eaten inside crescente, the Bologna word for focaccia. This way, the mortadella literally melts in your mouth, filling your mouth with a wonderful “soft” taste and a perfume that leaves no one wondering what you had for lunch! Another current says mortadella is better cut really thik, like half-inch slices, and then diced for finger food as an appetizers while you cook dinner, or entertain friends with a glass of good red wine. I have to say real mortadella is always, always good- but I prefer it sliced really thin (while I love my prosciutto hand carved!). A quick and interesting fact about mortadella? Well, 100 grams of mortadella have less cholesterol than the same quantity of chicken. I think I will gladly swapped my diet-savy grilled chicken breast for a thick slice of mortadella- now, if only could a 100 gram serving be enough…

In the Bay Area you an find mortadella in almost all Italian delis and cold cut counters in high-end grocery stores. Out of the top of my head I can think of Zanotto’s, Lucca Delicatessen, A.G. Ferrari, Draeger’s, The Pasta Shop, Bristol Farms, and even Piazza’s

17 Responses to “Mortadella Vs. Baloney”

  1. Mortadella brings back such happy memories of the Italian delis that were in my neighborhood growing up.

  2. Thank you for the informative post and comparison, I was not aware of the pistachio element!

  3. I love mortadella! I now have to go somewhere and find real mortadella.

  4. In no way traditional, but I really do love a mortadella sandwich on a sourdough roll.

  5. Your post validated me within my family. It’ just baloney…the most common comment inside my kitchen. My daughter’s favorite lunch snack? Mortadella sandwich!

  6. [...] made from scratch foods I could easily track down to the last ingredients. Sure, I had salami and mortadella and prosciutto, which are technically processed foods, but they have been processed in the same way [...]

  7. [...] breads served piping hot, to be eaten with affettati (sliced meats) like prosciutto, salame and mortadella. Did I mention the tigelle are “all you can eat”? The servers will keep on bringing [...]

  8. Mortadella is the King of Cold Cuts!.

    And yes, thinly sliced IS better.

    I love! a mustard and mortadella sandwich, with a combination of Dijon and Hot English Mustard.

  9. Saturday morning … very thinly sliced mortadella (you can almost see your hand through every slice) stacked up on a warm croissant with a coffee while reading the newspaper.

    Mmm mmm good!

    However, for a Sunday dinner treat try the following …

    Really fresh green beans, parboiled but not cooked through, and two slices of mortadella (about the same thickness as the green beans) cut lengthwise (so the green beans and the mortadella are about the same size).

    Toss them together in a pan with a little butter and cook until the green beans are tender (but still crisp) and toss in a handful of chopped walnuts into the pan.

    Your guests will think you are a genious!

  10. Baloney and mortadella have another thing in common: they taste alike. They do, really, that’s why I like mort. Rich folks who won’t admit to liking Oscar Meyer eat mort, I eat either.

  11. ehm… you either had REALLY bad mortadella, or REALLY good baloney!! I am afraid to say, they taste nothing alike… but good thing is you like them both!

  12. What do you mean mortadella is high-end? It’s among the cheapest cold meats in Italy!

  13. If you’ve never had baloney, I guess you can debate whether mortadella is high end or not. Compared to baloney, mortadella is a different kind of salume- sure, it’s not prosciutto, but it’s not the same thing as the cold cuts found state side! :)

  14. Get over yourself. Mortadella is made of the same fatty, artery clogging crap as baloney usually ground finer and laiden with the same spices and globs of fat in it. Coming from an Italian family, it was a staple in our refrigerator. I wouldn’t eat it as a kid and i won’t eat it now. I avoid it on atipasti trays at parties and restaurants.

  15. I had bologna sandwiches for school lunch almost every day in my youth. It was not until I went to Argentina that I was introduced to mortadella. I thought oh more bologna. No Way. The texture and the flavor are very different. Cut paper thin and piled on a baguette or cut in squares with good cheeses Mortadella is a delight to the pallet. Prefer mine without the peppers or pistachio.

  16. I used to engoy eating mortadella until I found out it was made from pug snouts!

  17. …still delicious!!

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