By Frank E. Vaerewijck, “The Firehouse Foodie”
The Italian Fire Department
One dark night in the small town of Roselle Park, New Jersey, a fire started inside the local sausage factory. In a blink, the building was engulfed in flames. The alarm went out to all the fire departments for miles around.
When the first firefighters appeared on scene, the sausage company president rushed to the chief and said, “All of our secret sausage recipes are in the vault in the center of the plant. They have to be saved, so I will donate $50,000 to the fire company that brings them out and delivers them to me.”
But the roaring flames held the firefighters off.
Soon more fire departments had to be called in because the situation became desperate. As the firemen arrived, the president announced that the offer to extricate the secret recipes was now $100,000!
Suddenly, from up the road, a lone siren was heard as another fire truck came into sight. It was the fire engine of the nearby Peterstown section of Elizabeth, NJ.
This fire department was composed mainly of Italian firefighters over the age of 65.
To everyone’s amazement, the little run-down fire engine, operated by these Italian firefighters, passed fire engines parked outside the plant and drove straight into the middle of the inferno!
Outside, the other firefighters watched in amazement as the Italian old timers jumped off and began to fight the fire as if they were fighting to save their own lives. Within a short time, the old timers had extinguished the fire and saved the secret recipes.
The grateful sausage company president joyfully announced that for such a superhuman accomplishment, he was raising the reward to $200,000 and walked over to personally thank each of the brave elderly Italian firefighters.
A TV news crew rushed in after capturing the event on film. The on-camera reporter asked the Italian fire chief, “What are you going to do with all that money?”
“‘Wella,” said Chief Pasquale De Luccinelli, the 70-year-old fire chief, “De fursta tinga we gonna do isza fixa de brakes on dat fockinna truck!!”
This funny little story was sent in by a reader to be enjoyed by all, and “That’s Bringing the Firehouse Home!”
Festival-Style Grilled Italian Sausage Sandwiches
Since the Funny Little story was centered around a fire in a sausage factory, and Italian Firefighters put it out, its only right to give you a recipe for Italian Sausage Sandwiches!
- 4 4-ounce links hot Italian sausage (choose hot or mild sausages, which ever you prefer).
- 1 red bell pepper, halved and seeded.
- 1 small onion, peeled and cut in half crosswise.
- 2 teaspoons olive oil.
- salt and pepper to taste.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil.
- 4 (6-inch) sandwich rolls, split and toasted.
- Preheat an outdoor grill for medium heat. Lightly oil grate, and set 4 inches from the heat.
- Pierce the sausages in a few places with a fork, and set aside. Slice off the bottoms of the onion halves so they will sit flat on the grill. Brush the bell pepper and onion halves with 2 teaspoons of olive oil.
- Place the sausages, onions, and peppers on the preheated grill. Cook and turn the sausages until well browned and juices run clear. Cook vegetables until tender and peppers are slightly charred. Remove vegetables and sausages from the grill.
- Place the peppers in a paper bag, close, and cool slightly. Remove and discard the charred skin from the peppers; slice peppers into strips. Slice the onion halves. Place salt and pepper to taste, and 1 tablespoon olive oil in a bowl. Add the peppers and onions, and toss until evenly coated. To serve, place sausages in sandwich rolls, and top with the pepper and onion mixture. Break out a cold one if you’re not on duty, and…ENJOY!
Frank E. Vaerewijck has had a passion for the fire service that has spanned 20 years. He has been a volunteer and career firefighter and is currently a firefighter/EMT with Smithfield Volunteer Fire Department (yes, where the bacon comes from, THAT Smithfield). He has passed on his passion for the fire service through instruction and mentorship. That same passion he has for the fire service is shared with his love of food. In 2006, Vaerewyck won an Iron Chef-style competition sponsored by a radio station in Richmond, Virginia. That is where he also furthered his education by attending a Culinary Arts Program. As the Firehouse Foodie, he has been compiling recipes to be included in a cookbook that will give others the opportunity to see their hometown heroes not just as firefighters but as the firehouse chefs they truly are.