life in bedlam

A Nice Jewish Girl

I was raised a Nice Jewish Girl. This means I never learned how to cook bacon. It’s not that we kept kosher. It’s just that we really rarely ever had pork in our house, and definitely not bacon.

This lack of proper bacon training has led to some tragic events over the course of my 19-year relationship with my Catholic husband. There has been nearly raw bacon. There has been blackened bacon (I don’t think this is what Paul Prudhomme had in mind). But the typical result has been a pound of bacon that is cooked unevenly. Some rubbery white stuff, some black edges, some perfect.

Until tonight.

Readers, behold, the perfectly cooked bacon of my dreams:

So, what did I do differently tonight? Well, for starters, I looked at the back of the package. But, wait, I’ve done that before. What I saw, however, was something I don’t remember ever seeing before: Directions for preparing the bacon UNDER THE BROILER.

The package said it would only take a few minutes, and that you had to turn it.In fact, it took about 7 or 8 minutes total and yes, I did turn it several times. Compared to other ways I’ve tried before, though, this method took much less time, was splatter-free, and the results were evenly cooked bacon that my family raved over.

Does anyone else cook their bacon this way? Why didn’t anyone tell me?

Oh, the pretzel jar in the background reminds me of old times and a little story:

My mother’s best friend since the age of 15 is Lola. She was raised in an observant Jewish household in Merrick, on Long Island. Her mother, Bea, who only recently passed away in her 90s, was a tour de force. She was widowed at a young age. She was tough as nails. And she always worked. Even after she remarried, even into her late 80s, living in Florida, she worked at Publix.

Bea had jet black hair and always dressed stylishly. When I was a little kid, in the late ’60s and early ’70s, she owned a Norge Village Cleaners and Coin Operated Laundromat in Huntington. I loved to visit. It had a play area for kids, I remember a metal rocket ship, painted red and blue that you could climb on. Mom says Bea loved us kids. If I close my eyes, I can still conjure her warm bosomy embrace when we’d visit.

As I said, Lola and her sister were raised fairly religiously, and that included a kosher kitchen. Or so my mom thought.

One day, as a teenager, my mom visited Lola’s house to hang out. They went into the kitchen to grab a nosh and thought they would make grilled cheese or something. Mom grabbed a frying pan, but Bea stopped her.

“Oh,” my mom said, “Isn’t this pan okay for dairy?”

“No,” Bea replied, “That’s my bacon pan.”

“Your bacon pan?” my mom asked, greatly confused.

“Yes,” Bea replied. “I have my meat dishes, my dairy dishes, and my bacon pan!”

Question: Is there any food or dish you didn’t learn to prepare from your family that you have had to teach yourself to make?


2 comments on “A Nice Jewish Girl

  1. silaghwhite
    June 8, 2012

    I’ve taught myself a few techniques through trying what I’ve seen on cooking shows. Phyllo dough, puff pastry, how to properly cut a mango, deboning a whole turkey… but the one thing I haven’t learned to do is flip a crepe straight from the pan. I’m a big chicken.

  2. hgkwiatek
    June 8, 2012

    As Julia Child once said when flipping an omelet, “You must have the courage of your convictions!”

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This entry was posted on June 7, 2012 by in bacon and tagged .

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