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Pleasure Practices with Sami Schalk: Bacon bliss

Turn breakfast into a pleasure practice with some simple seasonings.

Illustration by Rachal Duggan.

Happy November, readers! I’ve been in the depths of the return of seasonal affective disorder, midterm grading, and digging out my cold weather attire the last few weeks. Pleasure becomes harder to experience when I’m in the midst of a depressive episode, but that’s also when it is most essential for my well-being—gotta get those endorphins and encourage serotonin creation any way I can! One symptom of seasonal depression for me is lack of appetite and general bleh feelings about food/eating, so it becomes even more important to focus on preparing and eating food as a self-care and pleasure practice rather than as a chore or mundane task.

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I really like breakfast food and recently I started making spiced/flavored bacon. In the before times—when I actually went into grocery stores and walked around slowly browsing instead of doing curbside pickup or quick runs inside for specific things while trying not to get breathed on by dudes who still don’t know how to wear their masks over their noses—I used to get different flavored bacon from the butcher/deli area. These thick cut fancy bacons were great as a side to breakfast as well as a featured item in sandwiches any time of the day, but I haven’t bought them in a long time. Thanks, Corona. Two weeks ago, though, I had a pack of regular bacon I needed to finish so I tried my hand at adding some seasoning on my own and it quickly became a new pleasure practice, experimenting with flavors and ways to use the resulting bacon bliss. So I’m here to share a few with you.

To make your seasoned bacon, it’s pretty straightforward. Get some bacon, ideally thick cut (pork or turkey bacon works, I’m not sure about vegetarian bacon but if you try it and it’s tasty, let me know). Sprinkle a generous amount of spices on both sides of your bacon slices. So far I’ve added curry powder, Jamaican jerk seasoning, chili powder and crushed red pepper, a combination of black pepper, garlic powder and onion powder, and cinnamon and brown sugar. I liked the Jamaican jerk seasoning bacon best and the cinnamon and sugar bacon least simply because you have to really watch it when you cook and keep the temperature relatively low otherwise the sugar will burn.

When I make flavored bacon, I cook it in my cast iron skillet on the stove. Baking the seasoned bacon at 400 F for 10-20 minutes (depending on thickness and how crisp you want it) is also an option, just make sure to flip it once halfway through. I also feel compelled by my grandma’s spirit to tell you that afterward you’re left with flavored bacon grease you can use as a cooking oil. Fry some potatoes in that shit to go alongside your flavored bacon and eggs and you’ve got yourself a banging breakfast.

So once you have this delicious seasoned bacon cooked, here are a few things you can do with it:

  • Put it in your mouth and eat it all by itself

  • Make a bacon, egg & cheese sandwich

  • Make a BLT or, my favorite, a BLTA (bacon, lettuce/greens, tomato, avocado) sandwich

  • Eat it as a midday protein snack

  • Crumble it and use it to top a fancy loaded baked potato

  • Make a bacon and grilled cheese sandwich

  • Did I already mention just eating it?

Get creative with your flavor combinations. Find the joy in creating something new for yourself. And every time you chomp down on a delicious slice of flavored bacon, say “I’m a badass bitch in bacon bliss.”

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