Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Musings on Bacon

As I pondered posting again on the subject of pork, I considered how much I really, really like bacon. One reason for this relates to something that happened once, so welcome to my flashback...

My Flashback

At the age of 14 I was hospitalized for asthma for the second time. I was sort of sickly then too, on lots of asthma medication, some of which produced a low appetite and subsequent thinness. At the same time it should be noted that my mother kept a healthy house where fattening foods were not the norm.

So you can imagine at the hospital when they left a lunch menu on the nightstand so I could select my own lunch without parental supervision, and that one of the entrées offered was broiled bacon (yes you read that right…BROILED BACON), well I was absolutely thrilled and decided that being hospitalized was actually a pretty cool thing.

Now I shared my hospital room with a painfully shy girl who I recognized as that painfully shy girl from high school. Poor thing. Because of this we didn’t speak, ever.

The good drugs had already kicked in which meant I was starving and couldn’t wait for my bacon, desperately hoping they wouldn’t shove off some bad undercooked bacon to ruin this food-freedom episode of my life. I also worried that the menu might actually be a cruel joke. Or that they’d get the order messed up, or that they would accidentally give my bacon to the shy girl and since we weren’t speaking how would I ever be able to get it back from her. Then it got a little deeper and I wondered if my asthma was so bad, perhaps they decided to offer me bacon as a phenomenal last meal. Or worse, was I already in heaven?

Lunch was finally served and to my delight when the big guy in white scrubs removed the metal cover from the plate there were about eight slices of perfectly crisp, gorgeous-looking bacon. I took a bite and it was transcendent, the most delicious bacon I’d ever eaten. Each bite was savored, and I was so grateful no visitors were allowed at lunch so I didn’t have to apologize for choosing this item or worse, share it!

Then, a distraction. Two nurses walked in and stood between the beds of me and shy girl. They watched my trance-like eating of bacon and looked dumbfounded. What’s your problem, I thought, can’t a person hoard her bacon in a semi-private room semi-privately? Without a word they walked to the other side of the room to the shy girl’s side. She wasn’t eating at all. I looked at her plate, with green beans and jello and whatever else, and there was no bacon there. Surely everything else from the kitchen was presumably awful, but hopefully she'll take notice of how blissful my lunch made me and know better what to order next time.

The nurses asked shy girl why she wasn’t eating her lunch, and surprisingly she was very shy with them too… no words. So the nurses threatened and said if she didn’t eat her lunch she would not be allowed to see her parents, which made shy girl cry. Now I was the one dumbfounded, shouting silently to her “What is your problem? EAT IT!!”

The threatening and crying continued and that’s when I had one of those "ah ha" moments. This girl was anorexic, just like Karen Carpenter from The Carpenters band. How weird to see how that works. And why would they put me in a room with an anorexic? It slowly came together for me. The hospital thought I was anorexic too, because I was so thin. And that error in hospital judgment led me to a sweet place with menus that offered fatten-her-up lunches like broiled bacon. It was also why they were so flabbergasted at my bacon joy. Silly silly people.

Since then I've always dreamed of that bacon. Even called the hospital kitchen once to ask for the recipe. Some guy on the phone dashed my dreams when he simply said “It’s just bacon.” Just bacon. Ha! I’ll never forget it though. It was one of the best meals of my life.

In the last week or so I enjoyed more euphoric bacon...

1) At City Bakery Mom, Norm and I had applewood-smoked bacon as a side dish at breakfast. Afterwards I took a stroll along the salad bar and would you believe they had a gigantic heaving plate of bacon-wrapped dates AT THE SALAD BAR. This is unheard of at City Bakery, at least in all the years I've patronized them I've never seen it (I guess they had to make up for the fact that they no longer serve Maury Rubin's famous tarts at the Brentwood location). I bought three of the bacon-wrapped dates—with some cold spicy fried chicken of course—just to taste them. These were the first of this tapas treat I’d had without an almond inside; I believe there was cheese inside instead. I love the almond, but something about the softness in this bite was better. I think I moaned at the table. A big fat wow.

2) The other recent bacony times were in Little Tokyo at Honda-Ya, where my table and I enjoyed bacon as part of two yakitori skewer selections: a) sausage wrapped in bacon, and b) asparagus wrapped in bacon. Yup, awesome.

3) And more bacon is on the way! In a few days I'll make more of those peanut bacon truffles from an Alabama restaurant’s recipe in Saveur magazine. Such a simple recipe, and so odd, yet they’re great...as long as you don’t eat them with beer (that’s pretty gross, as my friends and I discovered while eating some with a pitcher of Rolling Rock).

That's it for now pork and non-pork lovers! Until we eat again,


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