Seconds on Bacon, Biscuits

Writing about Appalachian food icons turned me into the go-to

I was never really the school club secretary type: too antsy. These past couple of months, though, I’ve become the one who notes duly on two topics dear to our close-linked community: biscuits and bacon.

The biscuit thing, I brought upon myself by opining how I, in contrast to June 5 Knoxville International Biscuit Festival organizer John Craig, could take or leave biscuits. Some people just couldn’t stand that for me. Gay Lyons, for example, who is in Craig’s Biscuit Brain Trust and moves in local “society circles,” took time out of her busy day to shoot me this e-mail: “Rose, you clearly have just never had *my* biscuits & gravy.”

Jill Colquitt, the artisan behind the Handmade Trunk sales in Knoxville, was more roundabout in her Facebook epistle: “In the event you go to Asheville anytime soon, get the biscuits at Tupelo Honey just so you can spread their Black Raspberry preserves all over one,” she wrote. “Do you mind the biscuits at the Bistro? My favorite, of course, is still biscuits with cheese grits for dinner, which were best when accompanied by penny ante poker with my gramma.”

And while I believed Jill when she told me, “Sorry, I didn’t mean to try to talk you into biscuits, I just got sidetracked with the things that make me want a biscuit,” the hook was already set. I’m still not in love with biscuits, but I’ve become quite fond of the biscuit-centric anecdotes and expressions that come my way now that people think of me when they think of biscuits—forgetting all about my ambivalence. I like when former Metro Pulse editor Bill Dockery says, “Biscuits will be the death of me,” for example, and how he tells his precious daughter, “I love you more than biscuits.”

But my very favorite is my sister Amy’s anecdote about Weight Watchers: “You’ll be going around the room, and the first woman will be like, ‘I just couldn’t face another salad after our boss chewed everyone out yesterday,’ and the second woman will say, ‘I fell down on the no-desserts guideline—you know, my husband is sabotaging me,’ and then it will be the one guy’s turn, and he’ll say one word: ‘Biscuits.’”

Being the one who people run to first with tales of bacon, that comes a little more naturally to me. I did write the “Bacon Lust” story of Laura Sohn and BaconFest and Allen Benton and his marvelous locally-cured bacon in journalist fashion, without revealing my own idolatry of (very well done, lean) bacon, but I guess the message came through. This puts me in an enviable position, all those eyes and ears reporting back to me. I was surely one of the first to know that Strawberry Fields, the farm store on Sutherland Avenue, now sells Benton’s bacon. And that the newly opened French eatery with the marvelous prices, Chez Liberty in Bearden, has Benton’s bacon in its House Caesar (along with fresh white anchovy), as well as Benton’s pancetta rolled with bacon amidst roulade of spinach, creamy gnocchi, and tarragon ricotta cheese in their Chicken & Pig entree.

This past Sunday, Don, a friend from my Texas Hold ’Em tournament crowd at the Downtown Grill and Brewery, drew me aside. “You have got to see this!” he said. “They’re putting bacon in mixed drinks!” Sure enough, the next day, he had two copies of a Time magazine article, dated April 11, 2010, one for me, one for the manager of the bar, in case they decide to pursue this odd, odd trend. Don got this serious expression. “Here’s your copy,” he said. “Now do you want to give him the other copy, or should I do it?”

I told Don he should do it, of course. It was his article, even if it is my bacon.

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