Friday, December 08, 2006

Eating. bacon and eggs.

Ah! I have never regretted Paradise Lost since I discovered that it contained no eggs-and-bacon,
said Lord Peter Wimsey on the first morning of his honeymoon, as he and his new wife awake to bright sunshine and the smell of frying bacon after their first night as a married couple, in their country house whose former owner is about to be discovered, dead, in the basement. I understand how he feels, because there is nothing better to wake up to than the smell of bacon frying, the sizzle of eggs in hot pans and the fragrance of toasting bread.

What is that joke, about chickens and pigs in relation to a bacon-and-egg (or maybe ham-and-egg) breakfast? The chicken is involved (having given up the eggs), but the pig is COMMITTED (having given up his life for the bacon and ham). They just belong together. In a quiche Lorraine, or in fried rice with peas and finely sliced scallions, or a bright-yellow frittata carefully turned out of the pan onto a plate. Or as themselves at breakfast, the eggs fried or scrambled or omelette-ed, slices of bacon on the side, a pile of buttered toast to dip in the bright yolks. Rebel and have it for dinner, as I did once in the basement tapas bar of a grand hotel in Santiago de Compostela, Spain. (A vast white platter appeared before me, fried eggs lacy around the edges, with yolks like liquid gold, crusty dark slices of blood sausage, and thickly sliced bacon so crisp that it shattered beneath my fork).

And then there is spaghetti alla carbonara, bacon-and-eggs in a little black dress and heels. I have eaten it in restaurants but it is something that belongs in the home kitchen, dinner for two, or for one (eaten hot out, straight out of the pan). For all its simplicity I rarely make it, something I regret. Tonight I cannot resist; I have some pepper bacon, sliced into lardons, fried gently until the fat had rendered out. The spaghetti was boiled and drained, and then turned back into the pan and tossed with a little butter and an egg, beaten until frothy. The bacon bits were thrown in, and the pasta was showered with freshly grated Parmeggiano-Reggiano and tossed again. The egg melds with the melted butter and just barely coats the slick strands of spaghetti, almost a sauce, the shavings of cheese sticking and providing traction for your fork, shot through with the crunchy, peppery bits of bacon. I think this may have to go into my permanent repertoire.

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