Food Failure Revisited: Vienna Sausage and Green Olive Sandwich

At The Manly Housekeeper, we like to revel in our successes and learn from our failures. That’s the principle that guides this occasional series. I’ll examine a cooking failure of mine and see if I can make improvements to the dish.

I wanted to kick things off with a food failure of mine that happened about 20 years ago, yet is still clear in my mind.

When I was growing up, I would have a snack after getting home from school. Usually this was cereal or some crackers, but some days I got a little more adventurous. On this particular afternoon, I decided to make a sandwich. Ingredients: vienna sausages and green olives on oat nut bread. Don’t ask me how I decided on these three ingredients, but the combination was awful. I can safely say that sandwich is the worst thing I’ve ever made.

What are vienna sausages, you ask? Consider yourself lucky that you haven’t tried them. Let’s just say that Spam is gourmet by comparison. Vienna sausages come canned, seven miniature hot dogs to a container. The texture of a vienna sausage is the most offensive part – it is almost like a paste, and the skin of the sausage doesn’t have any crunch, because the casing has been removed. The flavor is terrible too, of course. It’s salty, with a strong bitter and tinny finish.

Why did my family have this food item in our kitchen, you ask? According to my dad, his family used to eat vienna sausages while on camping trips. He has fond memories of the pungent sausages from his childhood, but he freely admits now that vienna sausages are disgusting. Which still doesn’t explain why they were in our kitchen cabinet …

To revisit this food failure, I remade the original sandwich, then tried one bite. Was it still as disgusting as I remembered? Just watch the video.

This sandwich may look delicious, but appearances are deceiving.

I had high hopes for the revised dish. I knew the bread was good, and I was impressed with the tapenade. It all came down to the sausages, and the sausages were still terrible. There was no way a few minutes in a marinade was going to overcome that powerfully strong background flavor.

At the end, I did with my sandwich what I should have done 20 years ago – thrown it out. All told, I took one bite of the original sandwich and one bite of the upgraded sandwich. That was enough vienna sausage to last me for at least another 20 years.

  • Sam

    I remember Vienna sausages, aka little hot dogs!!!

  • Lydia

    Speaking of food failures, I feel like a failure every time I try to hard boil eggs. Why doesn’t the shell peel easily?

    • Mark Evitt

      After you’ve boiled the eggs, cool them quickly (and completely) in ice water. Another suggestion I’ve seen is adding a teaspoon of baking soda to the water when cooking.

  • Lydia

    Thanks for the hard-boiled egg advice. How long should I cook the eggs in the first place?

    • Mark Evitt

      Cover the eggs with at least 1 inch of cold water. Add 1 tsp salt. Turn heat to high and bring water to a boil – with the top of the pot off.

      When the water boils, turn off the heat, and cover the pot. Let the eggs sit in the hot water for 10 minutes.

      To make the eggs easiest to peel, cool them completely – 2 minutes in ice water, with more ice added when it melts.

  • Soulxlight

    The best way to eat Vienna sausages is with non salt topped crackers nothing else. The crackers hide the lack of texture. Never do salted tops or you’ll die from high blood pressure instantly . . .

  • Rebecca

    I came upon your post this morning and it gave me a good chuckle. I even read this to my mother. I’ve learned from your mistakes. Glad it was you and not me.

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