For this month’s Inviting Writing, we asked for stories about thanksgiving, with or without the capital T. Stories about the holiday, being thankful for a certain food, or edible expressions of gratitude. Our first story comes from Hope Yancey, a freelance writer in Charlotte, North Carolina. She is thankful for a relationship that thrives in spite of food.
The Bacon is Faux, but the Love is Real
By Hope Yancey
The smell of vegetarian bacon aromatizing our kitchen as it steams up the microwave is enough to send my husband running the other way fast. He would probably classify the assault on his nostrils as a pungent odor rather than a mere smell. I heat my strips of veggie bacon for breakfast, sometimes enjoying them accompanied by eggs or arranged on a sandwich roll with a little Miracle Whip and dash of black pepper. Served over toast and sliced tomatoes and topped with prepared cheese sauce, it makes a nice version of Welsh rarebit for an easy lunch or supper.
We have a long and storied history with veggie bacon in our relationship. It was one of the first meals I cooked for my husband after we met about 11 years ago. He kindly pretended to savor it, only confiding much later how truly unpleasant he found my morning meal of choice. I’m sure he wondered what other gustatory delights awaited him in his future. Maybe it’s an acquired taste, but I like the stuff. I harbor no delusions that it tastes like real bacon, though I wouldn’t really be qualified to say because that’s a flavor I haven’t experienced for myself since at least 1990. It doesn’t particularly bother me that veggie bacon’s texture is such that it fails to crisp, hardening instead. No matter: What it lacks in authenticity, it compensates for in other ways.
Veggie bacon served its purpose, as it proved to be the gateway to a string of other meat substitutes my generous husband would go on to bravely endure in the name of love. There’s been veggie sausage (patties and links), veggie hot dogs, veggie burgers and much more. He views some products more favorably than others. Veggie corn dogs, like veggie bacon, are decidedly not a favorite of his, but for different reasons in each case: “The veggie bacon definitely smells the worst. It’s just outright offensive. And the corn dogs taste the worst,” he said recently. Harsh. Fortunately, he does have an affinity for some of the veggie meatballs he’s tried. All is not lost.
Carnivorous lunches with one of his brothers represent a brief but regular weekday reprieve for him. He indulges in foreign meals that are scarce in our household—things like turkey sandwiches, ham and sausage calzones and delicious Teriyaki chicken, all made with actual meat. While he’s toiling away at the office, I’m able to luxuriate in my veggie bacon with abandon. As I pull the familiar, slim package from the freezer, I can be secure in the knowledge that the aroma in the air should have ample time to diminish before his arrival home. It was a revelation for me that there also are homemade versions of veggie bacon out there; that’s a whole new delicacy waiting to be discovered. It could be a game-changer.
In the meantime, I’m thankful for a husband who tolerates my self-imposed dietary restrictions so gracefully and occasionally even joins me in a meat alternative. I feel like a wife ought to do more to demonstrate her gratitude. I should really bake him a cake. Was that a recipe I saw online for frosted maple-bacon cupcakes garnished with pieces of veggie bacon?