I had been a staunch vegetarian for over a decade when I fell off the bacon wagon.
I was one month pregnant with my first son and trying to honour the innate wisdom of my body’s cravings. My body’s wisdom wanted bacon.
Too embarrassed to confess my weakness for that succulent, smoky goodness, I would offer to wash the dishes when friends came over for brunch, piggishly stuffing any left-over bacon crumbs into my mouth as I cleaned up the kitchen, not caring whose plate they came from. I understand now that defeat by bacon is fairly common among vegetarians. If you ever want to take down an herbivore, bacon is the weapon to do it.
I was down in Hogtown recently when to my excitement, under a flashing neon sign that said BACON, I stumbled on a restaurant serving only bacon sandwiches. As I waited for the cook to serve up the most decadent BLT of my life, I surveyed the walls, which were decorated with images and fun facts about bacon. One poster in particular caught my interest. It said that bacon contains a chemical called choline that plays a critical role in brain development. The disclaimer warned that if you were reading the poster, it was already too late for bacon to make you smart: your mother had to have ingested choline while you were in the womb. I felt vindicated. My body’s wisdom was confirmed! My bacon cravings really had been trying to tell me something.
When I got home, I shared the news with my oldest son, meaning to acknowledge his intelligence. He shot a disparaging look at his little brother, who was chattering animatedly to a collection of stuffed toys on the floor. “Did you eat bacon when you were pregnant with him, Mom,” he asked, “or just when you were pregnant with me?”
I winced. Apparently the poster had failed to warn that the side effects of exposure to bacon in the womb include cheekiness and sibling rivalry.
“I ate bacon when I was pregnant with each of you,” I replied evenly.
“Who got more bacon?” he persisted. “Me or him?”
“I ate exactly the same quantity of bacon for you both,” I said unflinchingly.
He raised one eyebrow at me suspiciously. “How much?” he asked.
“Thirty-seven slices,” I shot back.
Sometime after our talk, I read that scientists have added a fifth flavour to the usual categories of sweet, sour, salty and bitter. It’s called umami and is limited to a small handful of foods including bacon. Technically, umami means something like “delicious taste” in Japanese, but I would contend it means “mouth-wateringly irresistible for you, Mommy!”
Meanwhile, in our house, “Did you really eat bacon when you were pregnant with HIM?” has become a favourite brotherly insult, whereas “Yo’ mama eats bacon” – unlike other yo’ mama jokes – is actually a compliment.
My love for bacon has even imprinted itself on my boys, who like to start heart-to-heart talks with a twist on their favourite Garfield cartoon: “Sometimes it’s hard to talk about our innermost feelings, so I’ll go first: I love bacon. Your turn.
By Anita Odessa