B is for Bacon
It is lore in my family that as a four-year-old eating breakfast at the historic El Tovar hotel, on the rim of the Grand Canyon, I consumed six slices of bacon, each costing one dollar.
It is possible that I was conditioned for this meal by trips to a local buffet which allowed children under a certain age to eat for free. The story goes that they rolled their eyes when they saw me coming, knowing that I would eat bacon with abandon, not caring about my waistline or the opinions of others.
Later, after seeing the movie Babe, I committed to stop eating bacon. This lasted only a short time, but I still love Babe, the gallant pig.
I love to go to breakfast or brunch with people, or to make it myself. While there are many areas of cooking that make me anxious, breakfast does not. I have put in my hours in the carpeted galley kitchen we had in our first Spokane house, measuring Bisquick and watching the light go out in the waffle iron when each one was ready. I learned to scramble eggs in the house on the hill, near the park. My dad’s approach was to make bacon in the microwave, while my mom would cut each strip in half and fry it in a skillet on the stovetop. For many years, I never made bacon, as much as I loved to eat it.
I had a boyfriend once, who loved breakfast as much as I did. For a special dinner, I followed a Pinterest tutorial to curl slices of bacon into hearts to be baked crispy. I can still taste the tender, greasy centers. It was my first time cooking bacon.
Since that day, I have mostly stuck to the stovetop, though I’d like to try baking it once more. It shocks me how quickly large slices become shrunken, burnt remnants in a pan. I am not good at bacon, I fear. I usually leave it to others, unless it is part of an appetizer.
Several months ago, I was working for a Jewish organization and I went to lunch with some colleagues, everyone senior to me. We ate at a restaurant which served breakfast all day, and I ordered a Belgian waffle with a side of bacon.
I had finished eating and was on my way back to the office when I realized what I had done. “It’s okay,” my director assured me, “we don’t expect you to keep Kosher, you’re not Jewish.”
When I was 10, I won a local contest to name the new mascot for the interstate fair (a racing pig, that year). The name I gave him was Francis Bacon. I was interviewed for local television news, and the newspaper. I still haven’t gotten over the thrill.
Bacon has come into fashion in the last few years. There are bacon air-fresheners for your car, and bacon flavored syrup. There are band-aids in the shape of strips of bacon, and bacon appears in all sorts of unexpected menu items (I recently saw bacon-fat popcorn on a menu). I would like to think that long after the corporate fascination has moved on to sausage, or artisanal Spam, that I will still be ordering bacon, and perhaps even folding it into heart-shaped love letters before popping them into the oven.
This post is the second installment of a new series I'm beginning, one for each letter of the alphabet. These posts will be in order, about whatever strikes my fancy, posted each Monday.
To read "A is for Aravis" click here.