The sound of bacon cooking sizzling and splatting in a pool of grease makes me want to run for cover.
It’s not a vegan thing, or even a religious thing. It goes way back. Bacon is a food that used to comfort me. That piece of crisp bacon on top of white bread slathered in mayonnaise: It did the trick. Kind of like back in the Great Depression when a raw piece of bacon served as a cheap pacifier for babies.
It’s the ultimate comfort food. There’s a “Wake up and Smell the Bacon” app: an alarm clock that releases the smell of bacon to wake your early morning senses. And, recently, a toddler in Tennessee became a YouTube sensation with his enthusiastic expressions of delight after tasting his first piece of bacon.
That used to be me - until I wrote bacon off my personal diet at age 15. It was right after my first Weight Watcher’s Meeting.
Thank fortune, my husband, Hank, a reformed bacon-eater due to high cholesterol, has also now given it up. But, once a year at holiday time, I endure the bacon. It starts early on Christmas morning when Hank hauls out our biggest frying pan.
For my now adult children, the sound of Santa and ho-ho-ho isn’t what they remember about Christmas morning. It’s the sound of aluminum foil cutting across the serrated edges of a Reynolds Wrap box. “I know it’s Christmas morning,” my son, Joseph, told me this year, “because of the sound of the tin foil.”
It’s a process I began on Christmas years ago after the wallpaper became dotted with bacon grease after the traditional holiday breakfast and no cleaner would remove the brown spots. The following year, I pulled out the masking tape and tin foil to protect the walls beside the stove. It looked like a child’s makeshift spaceship.
I didn’t care. I needed protection against the enemy.
I’ve gotten good at it. “Nice job,” my son-in-law, Doug, said breezing through. “This year the edges all line up.”
After breakfast, I open the kitchen windows and doors, desperate to rid the house of bacon’s lingering scent. But, I’ve only survived the first onslaught.
The second yearly bacon-fueled hurdle is to be found at Hank’s mother’s home two hours away where we go after Christmas.
I prepare, packing washable, not that likeable (in case the smell doesn’t come out) clothes to wear the morning of our one-night stay.
Like clockwork, Hank’s mother holds up a package of wrapped bacon as I enter the kitchen in the morning. It’s her annual warning: “Heather, I’m going to start the bacon.”
It’s the necessary ingredient for her legendary “crispy eggs” she loves to make for Hank and her grandchildren. I can’t take that away from her (or them), so I high tail it to the farthest region of the attached family room.
“Heath,” my sister, April, asked when I’d told her Joseph’s comment about the tin foil on Christmas, “why this aversion to bacon?”
“It was the last fattening food I ever ate with abandon.”
“But, Heath, that was over forty years ago.”
“I know,” I replied, “but there’s nothing like something to remind me of what I don’t want to be."
“What don’t you want to be?”
“That unhappy 15-year-old fat girl.”