Wednesday, October 19, 2011

My Bacon Addiction

A word of warning: if you are kosher, don't read this post. If you are a vegan or a vegetarian, don't read this post. If you hate bacon (WTF??), don't read this post. If you hate fat, or fatty meat, don't read this post. If you're afraid of getting fat by just thinking about fat, don't read this post. This post contains some graphic descriptions of bacon, and might even be described as food porn, although god knows I don't know exactly what the definition of food porn is, and I'm afraid to Google it. Anyway, consider yourself warned.

I really love bacon. I  adore bacon. I'm not really even sure I can live without bacon. Maybe I should marry it, I love it so much. I've been eating it three times a day, breakfast, lunch, dinner and sometimes I think about having it for a snack, but I restrain myself. Sometimes I fantasize about eating bacon, and I can hardly wait until my next meal when I can eat some more bacon.

My favorite part of the bacon is the crisped fatty part - it just melts so wonderfully in my mouth. If bacon could just be comprised of the fat, I'd love it even more. And it's so great that bacon has that terrific sweet, smoky flavor. Applewood smoked bacon is one of my favorites, but hell, even Oscar Meyer bacon is good. I am a little picky about the thickness of my bacon, however - not too thin, and not too thick, although, of course if that's all you have, I'll eat it with pleasure.

I like bacon with my eggs, bacon with pancakes, bacon on my salad, bacon in my sandwich, in a baked potato, or when I'm low carbing it, in my mashed cauliflower with cheese. I love a good BLT (especially if there's also A - avocado). My boyfriend makes black eyed peas to die for, probably most of all because he puts a TON of bacon in them (which makes me adore my boyfriend all the more). Baked beans with bacon are wonderful too.

Now, these are all pretty pedestrian ways of eating bacon. Then there are some less typical, but not unusal ways of eating bacon. Some of them might be kind of weird, depending on your perspective. For instance, recently at work we had pizza and somebody ordered the supreme meat pizza, with you guessed it, bacon. At first even I thought this was weird, and I hesitated eating it. Then everyone said, "but Zippy, it's bacon!" (they all know how much I adore bacon) and I said, "well, of course." So I ate a slice, and it was wonderful.

Many, many years ago, when I was visiting my dad and stepmother, my stepmother invited her priest to come over to the house so he could make us his famous spaghetti carbonara (don't ask why. I don't really remember why a priest would come over to make us spaghetti carbonara). I'd never had spaghetti carbonara before, but the idea of bacon and pasta and cheese and butter and eggs at first seemed disgustingly overkill. My god, the fat! Then I ate it, and I saw that it was very good. That priest made a damn good spaghetti carbonara. God himself couldn't have made it any better.

But let's get a little weirder, shall we? Last year my mom and I were shopping at one of the local fru-fru grocery stores in Austin, and came across a dark chocolate with bacon bar. Now my mom and I both love bacon. My mom even calls bacon the sixth major food group. When she's really excited about it, she calls it a superfood, you know, like green tea, gogi berries and pomegranate. And we both love dark chocolate (which really is a superfood - so why not bacon?).

However, the thought of the dark chocolate-bacon combo made our brains frizzle - we couldn't decide if this was really awful, or really terrific. Then the lady standing next to us in the chocolate aisle said, "I have tried that before. It sounds disgusting, but believe me, it is delicious."

So we bought a bar. We took it home. Mom had a piece, I had a piece, and we were both like, Oh. Mah. Gawd. It was an incredible experience. For me, it quickly supplanted dark chocolate raspberry as something non-sexual that could almost give me an orgasm. The only problem is that it costs $7 a bar at the fru-fru grocery store - that's right, seven dollars. Well to be technical, $6.99, but it's still seven dollars. So you have to eat it a little bit at a time, rather than the whole bar at once. But however you eat it, it is indeed worth every damn dollar. Even in this economy.

Then there are recipes that I haven't tried yet that include bacon as a featured ingredient, but they actually sound good to me. Like bacon ice cream (baking bacon with brown sugar sounds yummy in and of itself), bacon balls and bacon bread, and bacon desserts.  Then there's erm, bacon (or rather bakon) vodka, but even I might have to say "nyet" to that, especially since I can't stand vodka - even bacon can't improve that.

Now, believe it or not, I was a vegetarian for 10 years. Well, really I was a strict vegetarian (no meat at all) for about six of those years, and for the other four I ate fish from time to time. My reasons for becoming a vegetarian, then an occasional pescatarian, then back to a full-fledged meat eater are complicated, so I won't go into it here. Maybe another post. Or not. We'll see.

Even though I came into this world loving meat, my transition to vegetarianism was surprisingly and relatively pain-free. I actually didn't really miss meat that much, not even steak which I had loved. Occasionally I craved roasted chicken for some strange reason, but not very often. I did kind of miss fish, which is part of the reason I went to being an occasional pescatarian.

But you know what I really missed? Yes, that's right - BACON. Every frickin' time I smelled it, my mouth watered so much some people thought I was rabid. And then I'd see those lovely, crispy, fatty strips, and I'd just have to turn away. It just hurt so much, because I could not eat it and still be true to my vegetarianism (or mostly vegetarianism/occasional pescatarianism).

I did try the processed veggie bacon substitutes, but they tasted like warmed over Bacos - yuck! The only thing that was something of a reasonable substitute was smoked tempeh strips, and that probably only tasted good to me because it had been so long since I'd eaten real bacon that I'd forgotten what bacon was supposed to taste like (although I knew it wasn't supposed to taste like warmed over Bacos).

Finally a couple of years ago, I went back to eating meat. And of course, I ate some real bacon, and I liked it. It tasted even better than it did before. At first I'd eat bacon occasionally, maybe once or twice a month. Then maybe once a week, usually with breakfast on the weekend. Eventually I went to having it every day with breakfast. Then I decided, hey, this would make my salads even more tasty. Since I eat a salad almost every day at lunch, I started eating bacon twice a day. I've been doing this all summer.

Then a couple of weeks before my vacation to Seattle I decided I didn't want to cook much, so I started eating a turkey-avocado-bacon sandwiches with sweet potato fries for dinner almost every night. I've continued to do so almost since the time I got back. So for almost the past two months or so I've been eating bacon two-three times a day, ever single freakin' day. And I can't seem to stop myself.

I think what's going on is that I'm trying to make up for all those years when I had no real bacon. But you'd think I'd be absolutely sick of it by now. When I first started eating meat again, I binged on the roasted chicken I occasionally craved as a vegetarian, and now, though I'll still eat it, I'm kinda meh about it. I got sick of it. Not so with bacon. The more I eat it, the more I crave it. And no, I haven't gained any weight because of my bacon binge. In fact I've LOST weight, if you can believe that. Maybe it really is a superfood, like my mom says.

Sadly, however, I may have to cut down on my bacon eatage. Just the other day I read that eating bacon might contribute to having a stroke. I guess this means bacon is NOT a superfood, after all. I've also read that the nitrates in bacon can cause cancer, but there is some controversy about whether that's true or not. But since I don't want to have a stroke or cancer, I probably should cut down on bacon. I mean three times a day is a bit extreme, isn't it?

However, I consider having to do this an outright tragedy. I am certain that I am going to go into bacon withdrawal. Probably because I will no longer have nitrates coursing through my veins. But the psychological withdrawal will just about do me in. After eating bacon three times a day, what will I do? How will I replace it? Eating celery (which has naturally occurring nitrates) just isn't gonna cut it. I suppose I could go back to eating smoked tempeh, but really y'all - there is no crispy fat in smoked tempeh. And you can't really put crumbled smoked tempeh on top of salad or a baked potato unless you burn it to a crisp. I guess you could dice it up, but it just isn't the same.

Plus smoked tempeh is really, really expensive. It cost nearly $4 for a package with just three servings. Compare that to a regular package of bacon - I can get almost 5 servings of precooked bacon for $3.19 at my local HEB. Uncooked is probably even less, but I'm lazy and while I love bacon, I hate the greasy mess of cooking it from its uncooked form, so I use the precooked. And I can get 50 slices of HEB-brand precooked bacon for $9.29, which means I get, um, a lot more slices per serving for a lot less money (you do the math - I hate math). Now who can justify $4 for 3 servings of fake bacon in these difficult times? Not moi.

I guess I'll slowly taper off. I had intended to taper off a lot more this week. I was going to just have bacon for breakfast, and then go to very occasional usage. I was going to just buy the 14-slice package of precooked bacon, but then I thought, hey, the 50 slice package really is cheaper in the long run, right? And I'll just freeze the rest, right? Um, well, since I bought that package, I still have been eating it 2-3 times a day. Geez. Maybe I should just go down to twice a day this week, once a day next week, then once every other day until I get it down to once on the weekend.

Sigh, this is going to be hard. I wonder if there is a Baconholics Anonymous?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

RIP, Steve Jobs

Right now the quote I posted from George Passmore of the Gilbert & George art duo on Sept. 26 resonates even more with the passing of Steve Jobs today. I'll post the quote again:

“We just want to devote ourselves to art.
We’re all dragged at increasing speed towards the grave.
Any picture we don’t make will be not made by somebody else."

Steve Jobs made art. Yes, he was a great inventor and technologist, but above all, the man made art. Tremendous art. Art we may not see again in this lifetime (though I'm hopeful we will). And think of how much art he could have made had he lived to the old four score and ten - wow!

Still, the man crammed a lot into his relatively short 56 years. He made the most of it, that's for sure. Tonight, when I was reading various obits on different news sites, I came across a quote from a commencement address he gave in 2005 at Stanford University (after he'd been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer):

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

I was frickin' inspired by this quote. I am frickin' inspired by Steve Jobs. What an amazing, brilliant, creative life.

All this so dovetails with everything that has been going on with me in the last couple of months, how I'm sick of not living the life my heart wants me to live. Life is fuckin' short y'all, and we all have dreams in our hearts that have been placed there for a reason, we have words we need to say, ideas to form into shapes, art that needs to be spread across a canvass, chiseled into stone, molded into great technology. As George Passmore said, no one else will be able to create what you or I as individuals can create - not with the same vision, the same shading, the same spirit.

No one could create what Steve Jobs did. And think of how much poorer we would be if he'd gotten scared and never ventured out to create all the things he created. Not that we're all going to be Steve Jobs, but we all have our unique voice that can speak to at least one other person, inspire them and get them to live life as fully and richly as they can. If you could inspire just one person like that, just from following your heart, wouldn't that be fabulous? And you know what, you'd probably inspire not just one person, but a whole group of people and maybe even change the world for the better in your own little way, just by expressing your heart.

I'm taking steps to express my own heart. Last night, I sat and drew a picture of my cat. And while this picture isn't going to be the next Van Gogh, when I finished I was amazed. It was the best picture I'd ever drawn. Not only did it look like a cat (!), it even looked like my cat! What was even more amazing was that all the stuff I've been learning about drawing and all the stuff I've been practicing in drawing came together just beautifully, and I began to understand something about how to draw. This was a major victory for me, and I was so excited! Scared a little too, because I wondered, "Will the next picture I draw be as good?" But overall I was so excited, and for the first time I began to think "I might be able to do this art thang."

And I'm working on my writing as well, on this blog, yes, but I've also written a couple of poems that I loved, and I decided to try my hand at writing for web sites that pay writers to compose short web articles. I'm almost done with my first sample to submit with my application to these sites, and I'm pleased with the result. We'll see what happens with that.

The important thing is, I'm taking steps towards my dreams, small steps, yes, but I am taking steps. I'm tired of bitching and moaning about how I'm not getting to live the life I want, and I'm making that life, and living that life, even in small bits.

Yes, tonight I am saddened by Steve Jobs' death, and I'm saddened that he won't be around to create any more great art like the Mac, the IPod, the IPhone, and the IPad. I'm also inspired by his life - in what he created in his life as well the brevity of his life - to create my own art and share it with the world, and do this NOW rather than later. And I'm certain that a whole host of people the world over have been and will continue to be inspired by Steve Jobs and will create their own art that changes the world.