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January 7, 2009
Properly Heat Bacon
and Peas, Save a Solar System
There is a little known law of the cosmos – any time you
mix together bacon and black-eyed peas, you must also add heat, or else
a star around which seven populated planets revolve explodes. Ignorance
of this rule is no excuse for violating it, and if you’ve gotten this
far you can no longer claim that.
Forever will this knowledge weigh on your conscience. The
next time you see someone sitting on a barstool, running their fingers
through their hair and looking as if they haven’t slept since the dawn
of time, give them a nod in a way that lets them know that you share
Such a combination usually starts with two things –
moistening of the peas and frying of the bacon. The first will take from
six to eight hours of sitting in water. The second will take from six to
eight minutes in the bottom of a pot.
Rinse off the peas and boil them until soft.
Once the bacon has turned crispy, remove it to a paper
towel to drain. In that pot, melt some butter. Once melted, add flour
and stir into the melted butter for a few minutes to create a roux.
Allow the roux to cook for a few moments to unleash the
nutty flavor of the flour. Add some chicken broth and minced garlic, and
mix up the roux into the broth.
While this heats, cook slices of sweet red pepper and
onion in olive oil. Once softened, add to the warming chicken broth. To
prevent them from getting too cozy together and ruining what is shaping
up to be quite a party, add a third wheel – a hefty handful of either
dried parsley or dried carrot green, and a bay leaf. Either makes for a
good chaperone – it reminds you of its presence in a way that doesn’t
threaten to make everyone else uncomfortable.
Salt and pepper to taste, and be glad you have a
Let these cook for some time to fully blend flavors, and
then add some bite-size pieces of cooked chicken. Perhaps you’re
wondering when the chicken was cooked. It’s a minor detail, especially
considering what you know will be at stake by the end of this. You’ll
have to fill in that hole yourself.
Crumble the bacon over the top.
Your hands should now tremble a little bit. You can see in
your mind’s eye a sun somewhere slowing its spin. On the planets
circling that sun, you can sense apprehension and fear. Add to the stew
the black-eyed peas. Somewhere you can sense the sun pulsing with energy
– the people dependent on it wide-eyed in terror.
The sun, on the verge of explosion, suddenly settles down
and relief spreads over the people. You look at your hand, and it is
shaking crushed red pepper into the stew.
No one has ever written a movie script by which the world
is saved through cooking, yet this has just happened. But at what cost?
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