Bacon Nostalgia in the Jewish State

Orit • Brooklyn, NY

 

I didn’t know it at the time, but the day my mother returned home feeling victorious as she placed a plastic grocery bag in the fridge, I was about to taste my first ever piece of bacon.

My mother is Romanian. She first moved to Israel as a teenager. As a child I never thought of her as foreign, but after looking back I can see that several features stick out. She has a slight accent. She has a mother, also in Israel, who can talk to everyone in Romanian and still be understood. She thinks it’s normal to eat fish eggs on bread. And she loves bacon.

She used to get her haircut in a remote neighborhood of Tel Aviv. One Friday when I was a child she noticed this Russian deli right next door to her salon selling the elusive pork product she missed in Israel.

Not fully understanding the challenges my mother faced adapting to a new culture, I didn’t realize what that plastic bag filled with bacon represented. Seeing my mother prepared to cook a comfort food from her Romanian past, I saw the child in my mother for the first time—her eyes wide and shiny with excitement. I could tell that she could not wait to wake up the next day to cook the bacon for breakfast, as if it were her birthday and Christmas combined.

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