Playdates with God: Pepperoni Roll


Yesterday morning, as I was getting ready to leave to head north to my family reunion, I dropped my casserole dish filled with four and a half pounds of just-from-the-oven herbed new potatoes in the middle of the driveway. The dish, my nicest and largest piece of stone bakeware, shattered and potatoes rolled out into the street amidst shards of glazed stone. The scent of garlic and Parmesan cheese filled the air and I cried a little as I watched it all happen in slow motion. Those potatoes were beautiful. I grieved those lovely round tubers as I cleaned up chunks of bakeware and starch and my three guys hugged me and patted my back while eyeing my tears worriedly. It could be a long day if mom starts it out crying over potatoes.

We decided we would stop at a deli in my hometown when we passed through in about an hour and a half. Too late to make anything else. I still had the Texas sheetcake I’d made for dessert. The cooler was packed with drinks and waiting for a bag of ice. There was nothing for it. I was at the mercy of the grocery store deli.

It took about ninety miles for me to get over it. Teddy played me happy songs from his collection, it was just the two of us, his dad and brother were driving separate because they both had to stay for church. We listened to the music in silence, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky, and I noticed the goldenrod was blooming a little further north than us.

After driving an hour and a half, we stopped at a WalMart in Bridgeport and loaded up on a disappointing broccoli slaw salad. There were no hot side dishes at the deli and it was still too early for any other options. The bakery was beside the deli and I thought I’d like a nice loaf of fresh Italian bread. My hometown area of West Virginia—the Bridgeport/Clarksburg area—has a number of local Italian bakeries and every time I go home I load up on bread. But, for whatever reason, WalMart did not carry any of the bread from the local bakeries. I looked at Teddy and he looked at me and I said, “I have two words for you: pepperoni roll.” He nodded.

The pepperoni roll is a regional thing; invented by Italian immigrants in West Virginia in the 1920s so the coal miners would have a nonperishable lunch item to take into the mines with them. Many of my southern and western friends have never experienced the beauty of this delicacy of spicy processed meat wrapped in dough. It’s an Appalachian thing.

My heart needed mending from the potato incident. So we took the broccoli slaw and drove down Bridgeport hill into Clarksburg, over the bridge and into Glen Elk Village and found the Tomaro Bakery. The scent of baking bread greeted us as we parked along the street. People were lined up on the sidewalk, waiting for their orders. I stepped inside the old brick storefront and all that existed for me was the smell of baking bread.

What potatoes?

Behind the counter were three or four lovely Italian women of varying ages. They were quick, and friendly, and I was nervous I would mess this up.

“I’d like two dozen pepperoni rolls, please.” I looked at a man with a hat beside me in line, holding a white bag—the tip of a rounded loaf peeking out the top. “And a loaf of hard crust. Sliced.” She nodded and smiled.

“Do you want those warm?”

I swallowed hard. Was she kidding?

“Yes, please.”

“It’ll be about five minutes.” I joined the other desperate souls on the sidewalk outside the small storefront. It was a happy group, bonded by a love of fresh Italian bread. Cars kept driving up, adding to our numbers. I watched several people disappear with their white bags. After five minutes, I peered through the window anxiously. Had they forgotten me?

When my name was called, I took my two white bags with trembling hands, grease already beginning to soak through the paper. The rolls were so hot they burned Teddy’s fingers. But we ate one anyway. The bread melted in my mouth and the pepperoni was perfect—sliced in long rectangular pieces like my mom used to do.

Who cares about potatoes anyway?

Every Monday I share one of my Playdates with God. I would love to hear about yours. It can be anything: outside, quiet time. Maybe it’s solitary. Maybe it’s loud and crowded. Just find God and know joy. Click on the button below to add your link. I try to visit a few of your stories every week, so if you are a new visitor, be sure to let me know in the comments so I can welcome you. Grab my button at the bottom of the page and join us.

Laura Boggess



  1. says

    Love stories like this! Hate it that you shattered your good baking dish but what a treat. The sights, the smells, the sounds, and I am sure the family enjoyed the pepperoni rolls if there were any left 🙂 Blessings!

  2. says

    Great story, Laura! God provides 🙂 I can totally understand crying over shattered dishes and spilled potatoes! Sorry about your dish 🙁

  3. says

    I so get this. 🙂 “It could be a long day if mom starts it out crying over potatoes.”

    I’ve never even heard of pepperoni rolls, but I’m certain I would love them! Sometimes our (?) Plan B is even better than Plan A. Glad it turned out good for you.

  4. Sharon says

    I just love stories like this! Except for the potato perishing incident. I actually muttered out loud, “Oh no…” But, have to admit, that the side trip to the Italian bakery sounded like a great compensation. Never heard of a pepperoni roll. But, judging by how much I love pepperoni pizza, I think I’d just LOVE this – meat and carbs, what’s better than that? And you know what, perhaps the sweetest part of all was the precious time with Teddy. I just love how my boys, even now that they’re all grown-up, find a way to *tuck themselves in closer* when I’m hurting.

    God can bring joy to us – even in the “smashed potato” moments of life.


  5. says

    Okay, now I’m hungry. And I don’t really like pepperoni and I just finished lunch! It wasn’t really the potatoes, was it? It was the dish. And the work. And the emotional push of getting ready to go and having your plans smashed. So sorry for that piece, but loved, loved, LOVED the rest of the story – which you told so very, very well. Thank you

    • says

      You are so wise, Diana. Yes, yes, much more to the story–letting go of much more than potatoes! But those potatoes were so lovely. Have I ever met a potato I don’t love? Potatoes and pepperoni rolls are two very different things, but the funny thing is, the goodness of one doesn’t discount the goodness of the other. This is what I’m holding on to today, my friend. Much love to you.

  6. Paula Gamble says

    This is a beautiful story, Laura. I love how tragedy turned into an adventure! What a great memory for your son too.

  7. says

    Loved this story, Laura, although I muttered a sympathetic “Oh no!” on reading about the spoilt potato dish. I think Diana nailed it here in describing just why it was a tear producing time for you. What appealed to me most was the warm family sharing, the noticing moments when your heart was still heavy – “I noticed the goldenrod was blooming a little further north than us.” – and the way you recovered your equilibrium and peace with hot pepperoni rolls (never had them but they sound delicious) suggested by a loving, noticing son. Just lovely.. thanks for sharing! 🙂 x

  8. says

    Oh, Yum!!! I make something a little like this and you have confirmed the supper menu for the evening! 🙂 I love how you shared the tide of emotions and the way the Lord opened your eyes to recognize beauty even when your heart reorganizing the plans you had for the blessing He was preparing.


  9. says

    Laura, I would never equate Pepperoni Rolls with West Virginia….but clearly I need to expand my geographic encyclopedia. Thank you for this slice of life in your corner of the world….so sorry about your bakeware/potato catastrophe, but glad it ended well.

  10. says

    What an intensely captivating story Laura. I just love your writing style and the imagery you conveyed. I felt like I could smell the bakery from here! As a huge fan of potatoes, I am sorry that they were lost but it sounds like something good came of everything. God knows everything and he is wants to be involved in every aspect of our lives. even when the potatoes get smashed! Just want to say it’s my first time to link up here. I will definitely be back have already connected on SM. Thank for the opportunity to share and thank you for sharing your wonderful story! Blessings to you and your family

    • says

      Welcome, Horace! I’m so glad to meet you here. I’m looking forward to reading your story too. And just so you know, I mentioned the potatoes again today–a week later. I think I’m still grieving!

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