We didn’t really have all that many rules while I was growing up. At least, not ones that were hard and fast and written down on the fridge, like many of my friends had, complete with the appropriate punishment if they weren’t followed. It was more of a hard and quick rule by my parents with the two of them authoritatively in charge at all times. Our house was ran on more of common sense approach with commandments, such as: Don’t lie. Ever. Don’t shut your door unless you are changing clothes. Don’t backtalk. Ever. Don’t question decisions. Ever. Ask permission. Always. Be polite. Listen when spoken to.
My Dad had another one: Never run in a shop or indoors, unless it is absolutely necessary. A fall into a piece of equipment could very likely be fatal, especially when torches, spinning drill presses and other such machinery are concerned. It was a habit later reinforced by my coal mining days, when a haphazardly placed foot could mean a broken ankle or even death, especially when the footing was illuminated by only headlamps, which would sometimes be shinning in your eyes if there were untrained red hats around.
This is something I should have been thinking of recently on an ill-timed sprint to the ovens in the kitchen. I went through the dishwashing area with my mental clock counting down the seconds until the alarm went off in our fickle ovens, signaling that the bacon that one hundred or so people will be waiting on in a few minutes may be burning or perfectly done.
We had cooked so much bacon on that particular morning, like so many other mornings, that bacon grease was literally everywhere. My Chuck Taylors, which I like to wear so much and have since I was a little kid, offer very little traction in the kitchen environment and flew out from under me in the remnants of what not that long ago occupied a stock yard and dumped me unceremoniously into the giant mixing bowl.
Have you ever tried to get out of a mixing bowl? There is no graceful way to do so and of course there was an audience of wait staff standing around doing very little except expound on their recent exploits at a strip club, which may or may not have involved a hot tub, dependent on who was telling the story. I managed to save some face by not throwing the mixing bowl into the wall, getting hurt, cursing or insulting anyone’s mother, present or otherwise, but instead righted myself and yanked the six trays of mostly burned bacon out of the ovens.
So reinforced my mostly hate relationship with bacon. I know that every wannabe chef, self-ordained T.V. celebrity on the Food Network and most of America loves the stuff, but I honestly don’t. It’s not that I don’t think it has its place, I just feel it is kind of like Miley Cyrus – I’ve just seen too damn much of her stuff. I do love pork, especially pork belly, in moderation, and pulled barbecue, and ribs, and scrapple and everything else pork related, but just leave bacon alone.
When did bacon get to be so popular? More importantly, when did it become so guilt free? Is it since FN began broadcasts featuring fat chefs lovingly spooning bacon fat over more fat and then marinating eggs fried in lard with bacon fat? We scream about fast food, and I’m the first one to get on the soap box over that, but it’s just as disgusting to witness a restaurant crammed to the rafters with patrons eating plates of bacon.
Bacon used to be a treat, something that we would get once a month or so, carefully distributed by my mother to her four sons in an attempt to stretch meals, not a staple of breakfast. It went in baked beans, soups, green beans, soup beans prepared on our wood stove when we lost electricity (which was often) and utilized by our grandmothers to “flavor” things. It was a remnant of the pig slaughter, carefully harvested and cured with smoke and salt for leaner times and winter stews. It was by no means ever the star of the show.
So, what does this say of our current society? In a land where thin is worshipped and we thumb our noses at spam, scrapple, sausages, chicken feet and non-organic peanut butter, we will line up for deep fried candied bacon. The exact same people who refuse to shop for anything except local, organic, humanely harvested, feed-lot free groceries will gorge themselves on anything and everything that is wrapped in bacon. As a joke, a friend of ours even bought us vegan bacon mayonnaise. Really?
Maybe we should all start running indoors, outdoors, or wherever else we get a chance.