Friday, January 28, 2011
BY BELINDA M. PASCHAL
Once upon a time, bacon was just a tasty meat, usually eaten in fried form or used as an ingredient in other dishes, but in the past few years, it’s become a way of life. The cult of bacon – or “baconmania,” to use the media-coined term – is especially prevalent in the U.S., where devotees have declared themselves a “Bacon Nation.”
Besides the traditional dishes, there’s now bacon bubble gum; chocolate-covered bacon; bacon donuts, cupcakes and cookies; baconnaise; bacon ice cream; bacon-infused vodka; and bacon soda. Only a true porkaholic would be pigheaded enough to try the Bacon Explosion – two pounds of bacon wrapped around a two-pound brick of barbecued sausage. (Comes with free triple-bypass surgery.)
The madness doesn’t stop with food and drink. There’s also bacon air freshener; bacon floss and toothpaste; bacon lip balm; and bacon band-aids. And if you have trouble getting up the morning after a bacon bender, the “Wake n’ Bacon” alarm clock will rouse you with the aroma of sizzling bacon.
Bacon has even woven itself into the fabric of pop culture and entertainment from music and TV to art and fashion. Before Lady Gaga's meat dress came the bacon bra. What appears to be merely an avant-garde undergarment becomes a tasty treat after an hour in the sun! Bacon is a recurring character on the popular Nickelodeon show, “iCarly,” seen most often in the hands and mouth of the forever-famished Sam Puckett, a girl so passionate about pork that she smuggles it into homeroom, accepts it as a bribe and once belonged to a Bacon of the Month club. ("You ever had Bolivian bacon? It changes you.")
Several songs mention bacon in passing, e.g., The Beatles’ “Piggies” and The Captain and Tennille’s “Muskrat Love,” but there’s a rasher of lesser-known tunes devoted entirely to bacon. Two of my favorites are Big Cheese’s “Gimme Dat Bacon,” and “Addicted to Bacon” by Trey Hugueley and Chuck Vail, both posted on YouTube.
Speaking of bacon on the Internet, there are countless blogs devoted to the prized pork – Mr.Baconpants.com is one – boasting everything from bacon news, reviews and events to bacon fashions, recipes and products. Bacon-flavored Diet Coke, anyone?
What is it about bacon that makes people go hog wild?
Culinary experts say it’s a comfort food that conjures fond memories. Academic types say bacon’s six ingredient types of umami (fancypants way of saying “deliciousness”), cause an addictive neurochemical response. As an experienced baconologist myself, I agree with Homer Simpson, who said it simplest and best: “Mmm … bacon.”
The word on Meat Street is that baconmania is dwindling, but that’s just health-nut hogwash. Bacon never dies … it just shrivels up.
Friday, January 14, 2011
BY BELINDA M. PASCHAL
Mark Twain said, “New Year’s Day now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week, you can begin paving hell with them as usual.” It’s the middle of the month and I’m sure a lot of folks already have proven Twain right.
Each year, people charge into the New Year with more determination than a bull at a red cape convention, setting goals for their health, finances and relationships with the best of intentions. And each year, many of these same people find their actions in polar opposition to their intentions after a few weeks, months, or in some cases, mere days.
I’m not a big fan of resolutions; I prefer to make positive changes whenever life calls for it. But I realize many folks view a new year as a new start, so here’s a word of advice – actually, four words: Set the bar lower. By following my tips for a few of the most common annual resolutions, you can keep those goals attainable. Warning: These suggestions are not kid-tested, mother-approved or inspected by No. 12, nor do four out of five dentists recommend them.
Does your quest for better health include going to bed earlier? Before hitting the sack, set your clock to Pacific Standard Time – e.g., if you go to bed at 10 p.m., turn the big hand back to 7 p.m., and voila! Three extra hours of Z’s. By the time you wake up – say, 6 a.m. (3 a.m. Pacific), it will be the next morning in Brisbane and you’ll have gained a whole day of rest!
Want to attend church more often? Get a schedule of potlucks and prayer breakfasts within a 10-mile radius. As a lifelong Baptist, I can tell you from personal experience, these events will keep you in the Lord’s house more than your own. Of course, this could result in you breaking the most common New Year’s resolution – to lose weight – so you might want to stick to the Communion circuit.
Which brings us to the never-ending Battle of the Bulge. For many of us, it’s a lifelong fight and frankly, my love handles are winning. While I avidly support good eating habits and physical fitness, I also know how discouraging it is to find the only weight you’ve lost is the scale you chucked out the window when the digital display read, “One at a time, please.”
In stopping the cycle of self-defeat, it’s important to remember that pounds don’t just come from fat, muscle, tissues and organs. Ever weighed your clothes? Those suckers are heavy, especially in winter! Switch to lightweight fabrics and those paper shoes they give you in the hospital. Shed your underwear if necessary. After all, many no-talent starlets have become famous by doing the same!