Sunday, October 7, 2012

The secret life of bacon

"Oh but you know me better than that, you know the me that gets lazy and fat."

Bacon. It's what's for breakfast. And lunch. And dinner. And now, apparently, dessert.

On Friday we had a late lunch at the Messina Hof Winery in Bryan. Neil and I were visiting his daughter who is in grad school at A&M. It was a beautiful day, sunny and warm but without the scorching heat of summer.

We literally had the place to ourselves. Well, the restaurant anyway. The winery itself, with its tours and wine bar, was doing a respectable business. We were seated at a table for three, overlooking a grape arbor with parched skeletons of grapevines from harvests past.

Despite being the only diners, service was a little rusty too. Our waiter never asked if we wanted anything to drink, once we declined to look at the wine list. He also never removed the 4th place setting, and my pasta dish, which according to the menu would be prepared tableside, arrived fully drenched with Sauvignon Blanc pesto sauce.

After clearing our plates, our waiter rattled off the dessert list, which included multiple types of cheesecake, tres leches cake, tiramisu, chocolate cake and a brownie sundae. My stepdaughter asked if the chocolate cake was dark chocolate. Our waiter didn't know, so off he went to consult the cook, who, he volunteered, was new. In fact this was her second day.

He returned to report that the cake was indeed dark chocolate, which my stepdaughter vetoed. Pity. So we wound up with the brownie sundae and three spoons. Presently the waiter appeared with the confection, which he proudly presented. And there it was. A chocolate brownie with vanilla ice cream, chocolate fudge sauce, whipped cream and bacon.

I am not making this up. The sundae was lavishly garnished with pieces of bacon.

I'm not sure why, but of late the world seems obsessed with bacon. I swear there are more posts on my Facebook page about bacon than there are about Obama and Romney. Pictures of bacon, rhapsodies about bacon, jokes about bacon, poems about bacon. Songs about bacon. There are at least 15 songs on YouTube about bacon. I know, I googled. Can you feel the lard tonight?

I have nothing personal against bacon. I just don't eat it. I don't eat pork at all. No chops, no sausage, no ham. No bacon. It's not because I am Jewish. Well I am Jewish, although I'm not sure exactly what that means since I don't practice the faith or observe its traditions. And that is a whole 'nother post anyway.

However I was raised by Jewish parents who did celebrate the major Jewish holidays. My mom is a Holocaust survivor and an atheist as a result, because as she said, no god would have allowed such atrocities to happen. My dad's family was religious but my dad, when pressed about his beliefs, would only say, there are no athiests in foxholes. Since my dad was never in a foxhole as far as I know, his position was theoretical but allowed him to beg the question of whether he believed in Yahweh.

So we lit the Hanukkah candles and sang the Purim songs and ate Matzoh during Passover and fasted on Yom Kippur. And we ate BLTs the rest of the year. Yes, bacon was served in my home and I remember my mom frying it up in a pan and soaking up the grease with paper towels. I can't say we ever had pork for dinner (just corned beef and tongue sometimes) or ham for lunch, but we definitely had bacon.

Mom stopped short of one of the customs of my first husband's family, who saved the bacon grease to cook with later. Jon kept a can on the stove and added bacon drippings whenever he fried bacon. He'd use the bacon fat to make a roue for gumbo, cooking it with flour until it turned dark brown and smelled burnt. I don't eat gumbo anymore either.

I stopped eating bacon at some point along the way when I learned about the evils of saturated fats. Pretty soon the idea of consuming something that was more or less fried fat turned my stomach. Sausage was not far behind, nor a big sacrifice, since I never liked it much. I didn't fully draw the line in the pantry and declare myself a pork-free zone until my younger daughter became interested in Judaism, traveled to Israel twice, and renounced all pork products.

It's just pork though. It's not shellfish or separating milk and meat or any of the other regulations of Halakhic law. My daughter eschews pork because it is one of the four animals declared unclean in the Torah, the others being hare, hyrax and camel, which are not commonly found in your local grocery store or on your typical restaurant menu. And I gave up pork entirely in deference to my daughter. Which essentially meant giving up ham, the last pork standing in my diet.

I'm afraid my reaction to bacon-sprinkled brownie sundaes was not the most tactful. Sometimes my mouth is a lot faster than my brain and frankly I was astonished. No, I was dumbfounded. And disbelieving.

I said, bacon? You are kidding right? Please tell me there isn't bacon on a brownie sundae.

And simultaneously, my stepdaughter said, bacon? Yippee! Or something to that effect.

Our waiter was somewhat flustered and basically pointed the finger at the new chef who allegedly insisted that bacon was an essential dessert topper.

Well, yes, and Denny's offers maple-bacon milkshakes. I knew that.

Neil and Laurie shared the bacon-brownie sundae. I had a spoonful of the ice cream, after inspecting it to be sure it was unadulterated ice cream.

I apologized to the waiter for my reaction but went on to give him a lecture anyway. I suggested he mention the bacon component of any desserts because even in Bryan, Texas, there must be people who don't eat pork for religious reasons. OK, so maybe they are vegetarians. Or vegans. Or ridiculous health conscious tree hugging purists like me.

He brought me a to-go bag with a plain vanilla, I mean chocolate brownie. Which I'm sure my stepdaughter enjoyed later. I was already stuffed.

In fact, put a fork in me. I'm done.

Next time, back to our regularly scheduled programming, with the story of the bead that went missing.

"Oh she tells her friends I'm perfect and that I love her cat,
But you know me better than that."
George Strait

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