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Bacon, the gateway meat

melissa averinos

I've was a vegetarian for 22 years.
Well, technically not a vegetarian, so much as a fishatarian, as I did sometimes eat seafood. Most people still think of that as a vegetarian, so it was just easier to use 'vegetarian' as shorthand.

Aside from the aforementioned seafood, for most of my life I didn't eat meat. Nope, not even chicken. I don't know why but people always think vegetarians still eat chicken. Um, no. "But what about Thanksgiving? I mean, you still eat turkey, right?" That's a no. But, what about when you smell bacon? Bacon smells amazing, but no.

 Being a vegetarian had become mostly habit. I started off my vegetarian career as a 16-year-old who had just read Animal Liberation. Frankly, that would turn most people off of meat for a while if they were willing to read it. But I did still wear leather, so it wasn't all for animal welfare reasons. It was complicated. It was kind of a cultural thing as well, I was hanging out with people in their 20's who had been vegetarians for several years, and it just sort of rubbed off. It never felt like a sacrifice or anything, it was just something I didn't eat anymore. I didn't want it or crave it or miss it , even though I was always a big meat-eater.  I mean, I still loved the smell of bacon, but it just didn't occur to me to eat it anymore. I figured I would always be a vegetarian, er, fishatarian.

So it was habit, a social thing and kind of an identity thing, though I was never militant or preachy.  Different strokes, you know?

Then about two months ago something inside me changed and I was like, you know what? I think it's time to eat meat again.  Part of it is willingness to let go of my identity as a vegetarian to find out what really works best for my body for the first time.

So this year when Thanksgiving was coming up, I was pretty sure I would have turkey for the first time in over 20 years. But the day came and went and I just didn't want it. I *could* have it, I was *willing* to have it, I just didn't want it. So I waited.

Then last week I was at a party and the host was like, "Honey, you gotta try the candied bacon!" And I was like, "If I ate bacon I would be all over it!" About an hour of mingling later (and no, I wasn't drinking!) Stuart and I were standing by the food and, knowing that I have been ready to try eating meat again, he was like "The bacon *is* REALLY GOOD."

I looked at. All glistening and chewy-looking and crispy-like. And I thought you know what? I WANT SOME.

 So I ate a piece. And it was so frigging delicious. And then I ate some more.

And you know what? I didn't instantly become a bad person. The world didn't crumble, I was still me and it was all good. In fact, I felt giddy! I felt, kind of...free.

And now pretty much all I want to do is eat candied bacon. Stuart came home from grocery shopping on Friday and sing-songed "I bought you some BACON!" And he made me some candied bacon for breakfast on Saturday. And it was still amazing. And I wanted some the next day, so he made me some for dinner. And I wanted some today but he was like, "Honey, we are out of bacon" and I was like "Well BUY MORE BACON THEN" and he made me some for dinner. He is being most accommodating about my new habit.

So these days, I am eating the hell out of some bacon. I'm pretty much being Ron Swanson about it, "Give me ALL THE BACON YOU HAVE."

Since I know you need to know, here's how you make candied bacon:

Preheat oven to 400. Dredge bacon slices in brown sugar. Use regular or thick cut, fancypants smoked kind or regular old red-package-kind, whatever. Place in a single layer on a baking sheet covered with aluminum foil. Crack some peppercorns over the top. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the slices are your favorite level of brown and amazing and crispy and chewy and crack-like. Eat with your bacon-eating fingers.

(Vegetarians, please do not send me hate mail. Thanks a million.)

xo,

Melissa 

 


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