Fredericksburg Features

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Wry Toast: Nobody puts bacon in a corner

By Edie Gross, The Free Lance-Star

My husband and  I subscribe  to  several cooking  magazines.

He actually uses them for cooking. Since I don’t cook, I treat the magazines like the SkyMall catalog: I’ll take the succulent-looking main dish on page 13 with a side of page 27, and I’d like the chocolate-drizzled centerfold for dessert.

One of our favorite magazines is Cook’s Illustrated. It’s published by a team of mad scientists who toil for months at a time in a super-secret kitchen bunker deep beneath the Sierra Nevada mountains, where they study things like how to alter the molecular structure of cheese to make a better pizza or how to employ stovetop nuclear fusion to prepare a chocolate ganache that will make your tongue weep uncontrollably with the velvety indulgence of it all.

Or maybe they do all that in a test kitchen outside of Boston.

In any case, my husband was flipping through the May/June issue recently when he came across a small item on the next-to-last page about how to cook crisp, yet tender, bacon.

How this wasn’t the cover story I’ll never know. At the very least, there should’ve been a pull-out, full-color poster of frying bacon for fans like me to pin to the wall and moon over.

Instead, the cover photo for this particular issue featured a head of lettuce. No doubt the powerful Lettuce Lobby is responsible for that blatant product placement.

But to paraphrase the late Patrick Swayze, nobody puts bacon in a corner.

The discovery of the bacon bit ushered in an emotional time for my husband and me. One second, we were overjoyed to find this little gem. The next, we were dismayed at its afterthought-like treatment.

And then, after we read the cooking tip, we were horrified.

The kitchen chemists at Cook’s Illustrated insisted that boiling the bacon first would produce better results.

Boiling bacon?! In water?! As if it were a lowly cabbage or a godforsaken package of ramen noodles.

The suggestion was so outrageous that we briefly considered burning our bras, tossing a bunch of tea into the harbor and then penning a strongly worded letter to the editor.

But this was Cook’s Illustrated. They’ve never been wrong.

So, despite our doubts, we followed their instructions, putting just enough water in the skillet to cover the bacon and cooking it on high until the water started to boil.

Next, we lowered the heat to medium until all the water was gone and finished cooking the bacon on medium–low—all the while rolling our eyes at the absurdity.

Then we tasted the bacon. All I can say is that if we’d burned our bras, we would’ve felt awfully silly.

The fact that for 40 years I’ve consumed bacon prepared every other way but this one is nothing short of a crime against humanity, and the next time I’m at the Hague, I plan to file a complaint with customer service.

In the meantime, though, I have bigger concerns. Because you know what you don’t need when you’ve just discovered the best way to prepare bacon?

A bacon shortage.

Not 24 hours after we’d enjoyed the best bacon of our lives, Britain’s National Pig Association warned of an impending worldwide bacon shortage, a crisis of biblical proportions that, between you and me, has Lettuce Lobby fingerprints all over it.

Almost immediately—probably in an effort to thwart global bra burnings, tea dumpings and sharply worded letter-to-the-editor pennings—the American Farm Bureau Federation announced that the Brits had miscalculated, probably because of that pesky metric system.

According to the U.S. pork industry, there are plenty of pigs left to avoid the so-called “aporkalypse,” though we’ll probably have to pay more for them.

I’m honestly not sure who to believe anymore, but I’m not taking any chances.

I’ll be hoarding a stash of bacon in a super-secret bunker deep beneath the Sierra Nevada mountains—far, far away from the prying eyes of the Lettuce Lobby.

Edie Gross: 540/374-5428