Dr. Joel Armato • Phoenixville, PA
Realizing it’s not a popular choice, I write this in full personal disclosure: I hate crunchy bacon.
The more learned and refined me of 31 years sees the irony in my preference for limp, greasy bacon, which comes from my Mother’s choice to use the microwave as she juggled my morning rituals, those of my Father, and with any luck, the minute or two to herself before heading off to work. The bacon wasn’t allowed time to get even remotely firm. Zip-Zap. Beep, beep, beep. Somehow she was able to make meals that I can practically taste to this day in that quick little window before her day actually got started.
With grease patted between layers of paper towels, those fatty strips were always the highlight of breakfast…shoot, sometimes it was the best part of the day. I’m not sure where the George Foreman grill ranks exactly, but I can safely say I was well on my way to adulthood the first time I’d put bacon of my own into a pan or skillet.
Then we moved. Not me and my mom, but me and another woman who I would come to spend a lot of time with in the kitchen. Baking was her forte, and she was very good, but the real magic happened when we had dinner guests. The two of us could turn our little apartment into the best roadside café, gastropub or fine dining experience for which you could ask. We would hold down conversation, keep glasses from running dry and juggle four courses before you got done asking us how we liked living on this side of town.
The kitchen was never the issue between us—there was a rhythm, as well as love, in the kitchen. How we managed to slide past each other with just the slightest bump or hold down some great conversation all while following recipes and preparing completely different dishes at the same time was all part of the charm. Whether we were working in tandem or on separate little cooking adventures, the kitchen was always a place where we got everything just about right. For all my shortcomings as a housemate and companion, I still keep a clean kitchen and a well-stocked fridge.
When we couldn’t get things right in the rest of the apartment, it abruptly became time for one of us to go. It happened really quickly, and it seemed like it happened just as we were just getting settled into our place, getting the rest of the rooms finally figured out and crafting a home for ourselves.
Looking back, our relationship was kind of the microwave version of what I thought our relationship would grow to be. This was the part where I learned a lesson about enjoying just what was on my plate, not the sacrifice it took to put it there. It was too late when I realized you don’t see things for what they really are until you’re wise enough to pick your head up and look past the plate.