A eulogy for bacon

Tomorrow, BaconCamp comes to San Francisco. It's a celebration of all things delectably porcine. In addition to making the bacon cookies, I'll be reading the following essay. Enjoy.


My mother writes eulogies. Not as a profession, not for a newspaper, but instead, she writes them to relax. I think she’s summarized the lives of her mother, my step-father, a handful of best friends, close colleagues but not my brother and I, you know, because that would be weird.

It’s a nice exercise though. To try and sum up what someone means to you, what effect they’ve had on your life. To take a look at how your life wouldn’t be the way it is without them.

So, I thought I’d take a cue from my mom and write a eulogy for bacon.

I can’t exactly recall the first time I met bacon, but I’m pretty sure it was at my dad’s house, where the bacon press was displayed, without irony, next to the Seder plate I’d made in pre-school. Bacon was always there on special Sunday mornings, alongside cheese omelets and bagels. I’d put together my breakfast, my dad would go work on his crossword puzzles and I, inexplicably, would go and watch Golden Girls reruns. I’d sit there, watching the inspired antics of four geriatrics in Miami, not sure which I savored more: the savory bites of still-warm bacon or the salty snap of Bea Arthur’s bon mots.

Those mornings with bacon, and the girls, were a regular source of comfort, of sustenance. But as time passed, as I grew up, I turned to bacon for more than just a standard breakfast meat.

Through my life, I’ve found bacon has been there for me in times of need, like last year, when I was confounded with a bunch of collard greens from my CSA. Without being acutely aware of what I was doing, I started by laying a few pieces of bacon in a cold pan, and by the time the bacon was crisped, the shallots cooked in the rendered fat and the greens slow-wilted over all of it, I had created something even greater than the sum of its parts. A friend of mine accused me of not trying hard enough, that starting a dish with bacon is cheating. Well, if that’s the case, I’m not inclined to play fair.

It’s been so central to me, both as an ingredient and an inspiration, that now, asking for a “side” of bacon seems trivializing. After all bacon has done, from making any dish delectable to making serious inroads to conquer the tyranny of vegetarianism, putting bacon “on the side” is practically insulting. This is a humble meat that crumbled the "bacon is for breakfast” stereotype as it slowly made itself perfectly acceptable with any meal of the day. What will become of the BLT, the carbonara, the bacon-wrapped passed appetizer?

We can still learn from bacon, how it started from ordinary beginnings and ended up being a veritable icon. To do it all without being showy or ostentatious. Because bacon, in all its delectability, never required an excuse. Unlike other indulgences where you might justify your consumption with, “I’ve been good,” or “I’ll start my diet tomorrow, “ bacon never asked to be defended because bacon, in and of itself, was the excuse, was the reason. Why am I going to eat that? Because it’s bacon.

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