My Love Affair with Bacon. Part I.

The hostess with the baconest

Indulge me as I give you a bit of necessary background: last summer I was at a crawfish boil hosted annually by dear friends of mine, and there I met a new friend. The talk turned, as it often does when I’m around, to food, and this woman and I bonded over our mutual love of olives, bacon, capers, pickles and all other things salty. We started talking about all of the wacky bacon pairings and recipes, and then it hit us, in one of those cinematic moments where two people turn to each other and exclaim in unison. In our case, it was “Let’s have a party and serve nothing but bacon dishes!”

And thus was born BaconFest.

My birthday was coming up, so we invited a select group of what the tabloids call “gal pals” — it seemed somehow fitting that this would be a girls-only event — and asked each to contribute a bacon-themed dish. My new friend and I spent many, many, many hours wrapping things in bacon, sticking toothpicks in them, baking them, cooking bacon on the stovetop to coat with chocolate or use in dips, and so on. Somehow, despite weeks of planning, we ended up with a rather one-dimensional bacon feast; I would have liked to have more in the way of bacon caramels, peanut butter and bacon truffles, bacon pops, stilton-bacon cheesecakes, etc. Stuff that would have taken considerably more time and skill that our wrap-n-stick toothpick routine.

Anyway, you live, you learn. I had made a batch of bacon bourbon and one of bacon vodka through a rather unattractively named process called “fat washing,” so we did have the novelty of bacontinis and bacon bloody Marys and maple-bacon old fashioneds.

So what did we have, then? Let’s take a look-see, shall we?

Jalepenos, stuffed with cream cheese, wrapped in bacon. These were my favorite.

Dates, stuffed with blue cheese, wrapped in bacon. Tasty, but one participant said that they reminded her too much of cockroaches, so we had a lot of these left over.

Plain ol' green olives, wrapped in bacon. A staple of my mother's cocktail parties, circa 1978

Bacon-wrapped water chestnuts with a sweet and spicy glaze. My co-hostess made these, and they were waaay too spicy for me.

Bacon-wrapped Townhouse crackers, courtesy of the Pioneer Woman

Just your standard cream-cheese-sour-cream-based dip, with blue cheese crumbles and bacon mixed in. Meh

Melted semi-sweet chocolate, slathered between two pieces of bacon, sandwich-style

Honestly, looking back on these pictures, I’m getting a little nauseated. All of these dishes were delectably for the first two or three bites. OK, maybe five in the case of the jalepeno poppers. But after a while, it was just all — too much bacon. I know, I know! It’s blasphemous. I had set out to prove the old adage “There’s no such thing as too much sex or bacon” but I failed.

And if all that weren’t enough, my friends brought bacon dishes too. Egads! Would the parade of excess never end?

What the well-meaning friends brought:

Candied Bacon, aka Pig Candy. This may have been the recipe that set off the Great Bacon Craze. These were divine.

Just bacon. Lots and lots of bacon, with two dipping sauces. One was a Thai peanut sauce; can't remember the other one though. And toothpicks -- how genteel!

The last guest to arrive brought the healthiest dish. It actually has green matter! A salad of tortellini, spinach, red onion, bacon and poppyseed dressing.

Despite allowing Long Suffering Husband to take a sampler platter up to his attic office (he calls it the “sanctum sanctimonium”), and packing up doggy bags for assorted boyfriends, husbands and sons, we still had a ton of leftovers. I froze it all, and throughout the coming months I’d sometimes take a few bacon nibblies out, nuke ’em, and indulge. Other than that, however, I think I’ve had bacon only once or twice in the entire year. I burned out on bacon — and it kills me to say that. To this day people still send me links to bacon paraphernalia and kooky bacon products. And I chuckle politely, all the while saying to myself, with a sad, slow shake of my head, “Never again….”

At least, not until… (to be continued)

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