Bacon, the forbidden fruit that was mediocre

By Ilias Bakalla

For the first 16 years of my life, my palate was not graced with cured pork belly, also known as bacon.

Now I've tried it, I think it is the most over-rated food.

Its salty, heavy and greasy, lingering in the belly long after tastebuds have been tickled.

While the flavour is mediocre at best, consumption does not come close to the expectation built growing up in a bacon-loving society.

My childhood friends described bacon as a celestial meat.

Something you find beyond St Peter at the gates.

A forbidden fruit from the belly of a mud-dwelling animal.

“You've never eaten bacon, oh my God!”

“You are missing out on SO much, dude.”

“You're life is incomplete.”

It was not my decision to refrain from consuming pig products, rather my dad's by raising me with Muslim values.

My reluctant and envious response was always "you can't miss what you've never had".

These empty words would soon fall.

My curiosity piqued given the many different ways pig meat is produced.

I would daydream about the possible flavours of salami, prosciutto, cabanossi, kranskies, roast pork, pulled pork, bacon and ham.

Naturally you only want something more when you are forbidden and my mind would fill up with the immense expectation of bacon, because it was the supreme pig product, or so I had been told.

Eventually I succumbed to this curiosity and in an act of rebellion against the powers that be (my dad...not God) I blasphemously began tasting pig products.

The first was ham on a cheese toastie at a friend's house.

I had to do it while his parents were out as they knew about my dietaries.

I did not want to explain my rebellious culinary decisions to them.

It was tasty. I liked the new flavour so much I quickly moved to salami, prosciutto and cabanossi.

Saving the best for last, the bacon-tasting day arrived on a winter's morning in 2010.

“Seriously you gotta try the godly combination for breakfast...bacon and eggs,” my friend said.

I remember hearing the sizzle of the bacon hit the hot pan.

I watched it tense up and crackle, occasionally spitting a speck of oil out of the pan and punishing me for standing too close with a split-second burn.

One particularly large bit of oil hit me as I was flipping the eggs.

“Ouch,” I said.

“Maybe that is a sign from...that I'm doing the wrong thing.”

But I'd come too far now. I couldn't disappoint my sense of curiosity, it had rewarded me with many moments of pleasure and joy in my life thus far.

The bacon was cripsy, very crispy. It was a strange texture and as it swirled around in my mouth I thought, "WOW...this is what I waited for?”

My friend was staring at me, wide-eyed with excitement, awaiting the verdict.

“It's all right,” I said.

“I mean, it's tasty. But I expected this act of rebellion to yield more fruit."


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