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on the downward side of the age mountain.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Romancing the Strip

There are many smells that conjure up fond memories and stomach grumbles, but no aroma transports me like sizzling bacon. Pungent, unique, it stands alone or marries well with the steam of fresh brewed coffee.

But bacon…today it’s a rare occurrence and I feel decadent inhaling its salty, fatty essence. Each time a flood of memories leap from my past and vie for re-living.

There were the breakfasts of my childhood in Iowa. Amazingly crispy fried eggs that were achieved by sliding them in the too hot bacon grease. Bouncy scrambled eggs flecked with bits of leftover bacon crumbs that had stuck to the copper-bottomed Revere Ware fry pan. Sometimes bacon came with pancakes or French toast slathered in butter and swimming in as much maple syrup as I could pour before my mother noticed. The bacon in either case languished in maple syrup splendor adding a decadent sweetness to the already salty crunch.

Bacon in Bangkok was another matter. A short tour of duty in my middle years landed my family in Thailand and bacon bought at the PX. The humble hog parts had traveled miles in refrigerated ocean tankers and more often than not arrived slightly rancid. The unbearable temperatures made breakfast with bacon less than enjoyable. There was a respite from indulging in those dubious strips.

College and dorm cafeterias showed another side of bacon. Endless strips of bacon cooked in wee hours were held under heat lamps at the wrong temperature. They were undercooked, overcooked, black, and limp pieces to forage through until two perfect strips were discovered and put on my plate. Yes, I ate them, but they had not been lovingly prepared nor did they have the pervasive bacon perfume.

Bacon sidled up to lobster and cream cheese omelettes during summers spent in Maine. The sweetness of the omelette was a perfect counterpoint for you know what. The ultimate BLT was perfected. A contrast of hot toast, warm bacon, room temperature sliced August tomato, and cold iceberg lettuce slathered together with mayonnaise and eaten standing by the toaster while the next piece of bread browned.

My career in restaurants found me cooking bacon by the case. The sheets of bacon were deftly flipped onto sheet pans and cooked in fan blasting convection ovens. Bacon perfume permeated my whites. One whiff and I could be brought to my knees. For the first time I surveyed sheet pans of bacon and could pick the ultimate strip. I was in bacon heaven.

As years have gone by, bacon has shifted from a daily part of my food pyramid to a bi-annual splurge. I salivate for my summer’s BLT and the stray green beans sautéed in bacon fat. At Christmas bacon takes on many guises. It can be found starring in a Sky High Soufflé or enveloping my country pâté. Of course there is always breakfast. My passion for bacon hasn’t lessened but has developed into a deep respect and love for the humble strip. Each salty-meaty bite is a trip down memory lane.

Read, Eat, Enjoy the Strip!

Queen Art-o-Eat


Smythe said...

OMG! I want to rush out to the grocery and bring home some of that greasy stuff-along with so-called cholesterol laden eggs and caress my senses until I drop dead from the nearest heart attack.

Queen Art-o-Eat said...

You can always go the low calorie way and just sniff the bacon at a diner and watch other's clog their arteries!

Cyndi said...

I had breakfast at Mimi's Cafe this morning (never been there before) and had the most wonderful dish with bacon in it - their Eggs Florentine Benedict. English muffin, tomato slice, spinach, bacon, egg, hollandaise. All the flavors combined were decadent, and I think the bacon really helped. I LOVE bacon, too!