Moving on to Bacon No. 2
Part One: Thanks, Players.
First of all, thank you to the hundreds of players who have sent in bacon-based recipes. I could never hope to answer you all in a high-quality, "bacon"- style way, so let it be known that I have read and enjoyed all of your letters and suggestions. Here are some "fun facts" that I have culled from your correspondence:
1) People from England who have travelled in the United States uniformly assume that all of us cook our bacon into bitter little dry, hard strips at every opportunity. They think that if we come to England, we will break into their houses while they are away and cook all their bacon until it snaps when you drop a pencil on it. They think we sneak away from our own college graduations to ruin bacon in a van parked behind the stadium. How wrong they are. How strong their own country's bacon propaganda machine must be.
2) On the whole, most of the recipes I received were for some sort of pasta carbonara. I have had good—nay, great—carbonara, and it is an adipose indulgence on a par with eggs Benedict, foie gras, and rillettes. I know what you are talking about, and I know you write with love. I will attempt a carbonara, but I don't yet know in which month. [note to self: at the end of this paragraph, include a joke about a tap-dancing kidney, and how he sings about his need for fresh water.]
3) Black-eyed peas. If there is one treat that takes me back to my childhood kitchen with high-grade ballistic precision, it is black-eyed peas. Pair them with a butter-topped pile of steaming white rice and the only thing missing from that youthful, sensory triumvirate is the time I saw my half-naked, senile old neighbor mowing his front lawn with a load in his shorts.
3.1) In (3), I originally intended to thank the fellow who wrote in with the Hoppin' John idea, but "the tale grew in the telling," as they say. That's where I was going with that black-eyed pea angle.
Part Two: Putting Father to Rest
You may as well know the truth. After last I wrote, I had already dispatched the remaining four slices of Father's hickory-smoked bacon into the great gullet that spells end-of-days. I hid that information from you, as a writer. I knew I was doing something wrong, or at least disingenuous, yet still I carried on; I felt as though the greater time I afforded myself to come to terms with Father's final application, the more adequately I could convince you of its ultimate appropriateness.
After last time's egg-and-lardon salad, as you know, I had four slices of this supremely smoky bacon left. It was getting close to three weeks, and despite my best efforts, Father's bacon wouldn't last forever out of the deep freeze. I had to act quickly, and I did. With an inbox full of roasted butternut squash risottos and bacon-wrapped quail in mustard pesto, I did the unthinkable one morning, when no one was home.
I cooked the slices until tender, spread seasoned mayonnaise on two toasted pieces of bread, and set the bacon on a book-matched bed of cool, crisp, tender romaine hearts. A flash of the blade down the middle and there I had it: a thick, smoky bacon sandwich without much in its way.
Father's had a lot of personality — it was a cigar in a room full of dippers, a Stetson in a sea of beanies. As I wound down my trials with this first shipment from the Bacon of the Month Club, I didn't feel bad to use it this way. I feel I was lucky to grasp the essence of this particular meat just in time: that it was strong enough to stand on its own. If a slice of steamed ham is Liberace, with his wardrobe of lettuces, onions, pickles, sauces, cheeses, and fridge-ripened tomatoes, Father's was every bit a dying man with a wooden guitar, alone in the back seat of a Cadillac, the one who didn't need to dress up to say goodbye.
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Next Time: New Shipment! "Burgers' Smokehouse Sliced Country Pork Jowl." First impressions of pork face fat quality, tasting, and rumination. Includes centered photograph.
Join the Bacon of the Month Club! gratefulpalate.com