[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he first thing I remember teaching my sister, after she learned to tie her shoes, was how to make bacon. She stood on a chair in front of the stove while I demonstrated fatback frying in the iron skillet. I also taught her how to dry it with paper towels, and how to save her bacon grease in a coffee can.
It only took one lesson at the stovetop. She took to frying bacon like a skink takes to a garage. And as the weeks went on, she prepared bacon twice per day, every day – so help me God.
She’d fry up an entire skillet of it and split it with me. We ate so much bacon I had to wear a T-shirt to the public pool. And I sunk straight to the bottom whenever I tried to go swimming. My towheaded little sister helped me gain nine pounds in two weeks.
Finally, I explained to her that people don’t eat this much bacon, and certainly never after breakfast.
“But,” she said. “What about BLTs?”
“Well, those are different, BLTs are a summer thing.”
“What about Hoppin’ John, or pinto beans? They have bacon, and they’re not breakfast foods.”
I shrugged. “Well, I guess you’re right.”
Satisfied with her own reasoning, my sister went to the icebox. I stopped her. “No, no.” I yanked the fatback away. “Look, if you want bacon for supper, I’m going to teach you how to combine it with something healthy, like a responsible American.”
“A salad?” she asked.
“Close,” I answered. “I’m going to teach you how to make a bacon cheeseburger.”
Illustration by Hannah Lipsey