Thursday, August 26, 2010

In Which I Give Myself a Coronary

by Bill

So what is the purpose of comfort food anyway? Obviously it's to ease an aching heart. And what better way to ease an aching heart than to kill it?

My comfort foods pretty much all boil down to slow-motion suicide. Tasty, tasty, slow-motion suicide.

In no particular order:

Bacon. Okay, this is in a particular order. Bacon tops my comfort food list, and is arguably the most deadly. It's got yer salt for high blood pressure. It's got your saturated fat and cholesterol for atherosclerosis. And then there's the carcinogenic nitrates and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Comfort food indeed!

Bacon is, of course, its own reward. But it also makes salads more yummy, and can deliciously top everything from meatloaf and baked beans to cupcakes. (Note, however, that cupcakes are not a comfort food for me. I dislike cake in all its forms.) At last weekend's Portland BaconFest, I sampled bacon-infused vodka, maple bacon shortbread, bacon-and-pork meatballs, bacon pops, bacon-wrapped hotdog (see photo at top), and more. I probably cut five years off my life expectancy in one magical three-hour feeding frenzy.

So worth it.

Macaroni-and-cheese. A common comfort food, offering heart-coagulating levels of fat and cholesterol in creamy casserole form. My own variation is based on a standard. As a minor sop to my frightened coronary arteries, I make it with non-fat milk. But who am I kidding. Two pounds of Tillamook cheddar cheese in one 9x13 baking dish more than counteracts the modest benefit of skim milk. The potato chips crushed on top also contribute to my early death.

Still. Oh my gawd. I heart mac-and-cheese.

Potatoes. In all their forms. I usually wake up with the sads (eh, not really, but work with me here), so I need to comfort my aching heart over breakfast. In addition to the elixir of life, coffee, I like to make cheesy eggs and potatoes. The potatoes are in hash form, which I fry up first, Then I pour beaten eggs over the crispy taters. When the eggs are almost firm, I sprinkle shredded cheese over the top, flip it so the cheese can crisp a bit. Serve and eat!

Be still my beating heart. Literally.

Of course potatoes are also good in french fry form, mashed form, au gratin form. By themselves, they are relatively benign, but the cheesy eggy goodness which often accompanies them adds heart-stopping deliciousness. And, of course, too much starchy food has its own dangers, if less acute ones than the salt, cholesterol, and saturated fats of bacon and mac-and-cheese. Thus, potatoes qualify as comfortingly reckless in the quantities I eat them.

Hmmm. Maybe I should go eat a bowl of prophylactic oatmeal or something.


Gretchen said...

If you halfway scooped out a baked potato, filled it with Mac & cheese, then wrapped it in bacon and baked until crispy on top.

You could put it on a stick and it would be perfect.

TracyK said...

I've heard about the bacon vodka - was it any good?

By the way I am now starving thanks to your post.

Harley May said...

Oh, Bill. You are special.


Janet Reid said...

Please do not die quite yet. I need that manuscript!

Janet Reid said...

Harley May, he's a pie man. Birthday pie. Wedding pie. Pie pie. He's the inspiration for the Andie McDowell song from "Michael": I like pie.


Bill Cameron said...

Gretchen. OMG. Yes. YESSSSSSS.

Tracy, I thought it was pretty good. My wife thought it was an abomination. The bacon flavor was subtle but definitely there.

Bill Cameron said...

Yes, Harley, what Janet said.

Laurie Lamb said...

I'm surprised you don't put crumbled bacon in your cheesy eggs and potatoes!

Bill Cameron said...

I have done this, Laurie. My dirty little secret is, despite my utter love of bacon, I actually control my intake owing to my desire to live along enough to finish my next manuscript. So I tend to not eat it EVERY day. Shhh. Our little secret!

Jen Jordan said...

You need to learn to unhinge your jaw.

Jeannie Holmes said...

As a fellow baconhead, I'm surprised you didn't mention:

Bacon salt
Bacon popcorn
Bacon lip balm
Bacon mints
Bacon jelly beans
Bacon gum
Gummi Bacon
Caffeinated maple-flavored Bacon lollipops

And my personal fave...Tac Bac: Tactical Canned Bacon (Has a shelf life of up to 10 years)

*tsk* Slacker.... ;)

Jeannie Holmes said...

Oh, and I forgot to mention the bacon-flavored envelopes. Great for mailing letters to people who have pets. Drives them nuts. ;)

Graham Brown said...

If you think about it Bacon is a very balanced meal - it does clog the arteries with fat and cholesterol but since it has all that salt you talk about it boosts up your blood pressure so the that relatively important red liquid can blast its way through the sludge.

Rebecca Cantrell said...

Thanks for making me hungry, Bill! Bacon Fest? Portland is so cool! Next year, I must make a stop on my book tour in Portland that coincides with Bacon Fest. Coincidentally, of course.

I had a friend who was a vegan, except for bacon. When I asked her how she justified it, she answered "I don't consider it food. It's a confection." Maybe that'll help your arteries.

Enjoy your confections, Bill!

Bill Cameron said...

Jen, this is an excellent point.

Graham, I like the cut of your jib.

Jeannie, as it happens, we brought Gummi Bacon, two kinds of Bacon Salt, and Baconnaise home from BaconFest. We also sampled Bacon Popcorn while there, which was frightfully tasty.

Becky, I also like the cut of your jib. I am now vegan, except for a long list of confections.

Sophie Littlefield said...

my favorite bacon visual ever was this:

now i think it's you eating a bacon dog. :)

Shane Gericke said...

What Jen said. To fit in more bacon.

Gawd, bacon is SO GOOD. Even that crappy steam table bacon you get at the free breakfast at the Holiday Inn Express, all shriveled up like me in icy water ... uh, never mind, back to bacon ... and sitting in steamed bacon grease, which by the way you can collect in a bowl and put in your fridge and use to cook your eggs next time and maybe even lube your truck.

I bow to your bacon-ness, Bill!

Gabi said...

You dislike cake in all its forms? You are officially nuts (as opposed to the unofficial status you've held for years). Bacon on cupcakes? Oyevee.

You did give me a great idea of what to get you for Christmas, though. A defibrilator. Just what every bacon loving, mac and cheese devouring potato disciple needs.

Kelli Stanley said...

I can testify to Bill's love of all things bacon.

I once saw him eat sugar-coated bacon at a Portland restaurant. Yes, in whatever mutation someone is willing to cook it, this man is willing to eat it.

Personally, I think it fuels his rich and savory prose. ;)

But here's the question: does turkey bacon still qualify as bacon?