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Thursday, October 8, 2009

Six Degrees of . . . Bacon

If you read my post "Are You There Krishna? It's Me Kiran," you know I am a fan of bacon. Despite the fact that it was considered "off limits" for my parents, who like many Indians, do not eat pork products, I could not get enough of it as a kid. How could something that tasted so good be bad for me?

If eating bacon was wrong, well - I didn't want to be right.

I was first introduced to it when I was six years old at a friend's house and came home and announced to my mother that we were missing out on this "ambrosia", this nectar of the gods. I wanted her to buy it and make me some at home. She was having none of that though and proceeded to tell me what dirty animals pigs were and that if I ate pig, I was basically eating poop, because that's what pigs eat.

You know - I applaud my mother for coming up with that colorful and unsavory imagery. That was really disgusting. But the thing was -IT DIDN'T MATTER. I didn't care - I had tasted heaven and I wanted more.

As luck would have it, the Gods (all of the Hindu ones that my family prays to) were on my side. At my next health check up the doctor told my mother that I was underweight and needed to put some weight on by my next visit. A picky eater, it was constantly a thorn in my parents side that I did not have a hearty appetite. Dr. Rahill, my childhood pediatrician, asked my mother what kinds of food I DID like.

Dr. Rahill: She needs more fattening food. Will she eat cheese? What does she like?
Ma: No, I try everything Doctor but she won't eat ANYTHING. She like potato chips. Potato Chips! I can't feed her that all of the time!
Dr. Rahill: (Scratching his head in thought) Hmm. No - but we need to get some fattening proteins into her diet.

I didn't know what fattening proteins were but I decided I should pipe up.

Me: I want bacon. I like bacon.
Dr. Rahill: What? (My mother just looked at me like she wanted to throttle me).
Me: I want bacon. (Louder this time). It's yummy.
Dr. Rahill: (Turning to my mother). Well - there you go. It's not the best thing, but it is fattening. Let her have some of that.


My mom left the appointment, went to the drugstore to buy those white hospital masks, went to ShopRite and bought a pack of bacon and resigned herself to the task. She opened up every window in the house, turned on every fan and put on her little mask, in the hopes that it would cover up the "disgusting" smell of bacon. (I have no idea how anyone can NOT LIKE that smell). And she proceeded to make the entire pack for me and serve it to me on a plate.

There I was, 6 years old, devouring my huge plate of AWESOMENESS (all 15 servings of it) while my mother tried not to gag and went about scrubbing the range to get the horrible, pig stench out of her kitchen.
It couldn't get much better than this.

My parents never waivered from their anti-PIG and anti-COW eating stance. At least, not intentionally . . .

A year or two ago, my parents came to visit during some of the NFL playoff games. John and our friend Chris Carlin were off to watch one of the games at the local sports bar and asked my father to come along. A few pitchers and a few games later, John and my dad returned home.

Me: How was it? Dinner is almost ready.
John: Oh, we are full. We had a few beers each and some wings (cool) . . . and some cheese fries (uh oh).


Me: But you remembered to order the cheese fries without bacon, right?
John: (A look of horror on his face) Oh. No.
Me: But Papa didn't eat any of it, right?
John: (Shaking his head) Actually, Papa ate MOST of it.
Me: Oh no.
John: Don't tell him. He DOESN'T NEED TO KNOW.
Me: Are you kidding me? (Realization setting in). This is awesome. I have to tell him!

So, when my dad came into the kitchen, still reveling in the buzz of good beer and lots of saturated fats, I had to break the news to him.

Me: So, Papa, I hear you liked the cheese fries.
Papa: Yes. They were very, very good. Delicious.
Me: Hmm. Well you would think that. BECAUSE THEY HAD BACON ON THEM.
Papa: What?
Me: Bacon. You ate bacon!
Papa: (Shaking his head in disbelief). No I didn't. I didn't eat bacon. I would KNOW if I ate bacon.

In seconds, I had turned his whole world upside down. Everything he knew, everything he thought he knew.

Me: Trust me Papa - you ate bacon. (Looking at John for affirmation). John, tell Papa you ate bacon.
John: (Sounding resigned) Papa, you DID eat bacon.
Papa: No. No.
Me: (Not relenting) Just because it didn't oink at you, doesn't mean you didn't eat pork!

But my father refused to believe that he had. He resolutely held on to the misguided belief that he had not partaken in anything resembling pork consumption. As if by not admitting it, he could wash the pork away. To this day, he will not admit that he knows what those little morsels of goodness on top of his fries were.

But sometimes, when my father is unusually quiet and he gets this far off look in his eyes, I like to think that he still remembers that day and the little taste of heaven he had. I'd like to think that he has no regrets. And you know my friends, I don't think he does.
(Mainly because he still hasn't admitted that he ate bacon).


Anonymous said...

I remeber that story. You are quite a good writer. Love, Mom

Anonymous said...

you are a good writer, but this story seems a bit mean....your poor dad! why were you happy to shatter his beliefs and make him feel bad?

Kiran (Masala Chica) said...

Aww. I didn't mean it to come off as mean. I love my dad! But not eating pork, unlike beef, is not a religious belief for my family. He has just been stubborn and refuses to believe that it could taste good.

And over the years, he and my mom have not been shy in telling me how gross they thought pork was. So, I did (and still do) find it humorous that he devoured that plate of cheese fries.

Thanks for reading!


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