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October 22, 2008

Savor the Bacon, Honor the Lemon


Begin by heating a skillet.


All of a sudden, you say to yourself, “What an abrupt way to start . . . where is this headed?” The answer is that you are on a journey that will reveal truth. In this case, however, only a blind man can truly see.


And with that we return to the skillet, or rather to the countertop next to the skillet, where you should cut two slices of bacon into what might otherwise be described as matchsticks.


Toss the bacon into the skillet and enjoy the rising symphony of the sound of sizzling. It is the sound of bacon-y flavor being unleashed into the bottom of the skillet. Enjoy it, revel in it. It will maybe one day kill you, but today it is your sweet, sweet love.


Once it approaches being finished, which is to say the point at which it might crisp up and burn, add to the skillet chopped onion, minced garlic and sliced peppers of a very mild warmth. Let these cook together for a few moments, while you boil a pot of water in which to soften some penne pasta.


As the bacon and ingredients cook and the water boils, slice green and black olives and chop fresh parsley. Mix all of these in on low heat. Treated properly, fresh parsley will be a lifelong friend, but it has a fragile ego. Too much heat and it will wilt and be no fun to be around.


Once these are warmed, turn off the heat, add some diced Roma tomatoes and cover. Here, perhaps, you ask, “Why Romas?” Romas, unlike other, juicier tomatoes, hold themselves together under heat. They release fewer juices, and retain their shape. Here, despite the fact that it should now be obvious that you are cooking pasta, the tomato is not a chief player in this affair. It chiefly serves the purpose of adding color.


Now, we reveal a small piece of truth. Take into your hand a lemon. Yes, it is a lemon today that will part its lips and whisper in your ear something that is as true as the earth is old.


Turn off anything in your house that makes noise. The truth spoken to you can be heard only if you are truly listening. Close your eyes if you must.


Begin to rub your lemon across the smallest hole possible on your grater. Most people will hear scraping. You, forewarned, will instead hear, “Eat the peel, eat the peel, eat the peel.” It is a reminder that to honor the lemon, you must use all of the lemon.


You may conclude that it is not a great truth – that the lemon is not worth honoring. What personal grudges we all may carry against citrus is a topic for another day, but here we acknowledge that in the absence of great truth, there is great flavor.


Add the grated lemon peel to the olive and bacon sauce and top with grated Parmesan cheese. Serve with the penne.


© 2008 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.


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