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The items we assign value to tend to change throughout our lives.
In 1987, I was 26 years old and had just opened our first restaurant. My dream at that time was to one day own a restaurant in Aspen, Colorado, and a restaurant in Destin, Florida. The idea was that the seasons are so opposite I could spend half of the year at my restaurant in the snow and half of the year at my restaurant in the sand. That dream lasted only a few years. Today I know it’s better to visit those locales and stay in a place I only have to pay for the week I am there. I can leave the restaurant business to the locals, which allows me to enjoy snow or sand.
I guess automobiles meant something to me at one period of my life. I have always seen a vehicle as something to get me from point A to point B. As long as it has four good tires, an air-conditioner that blows really cold, a good stereo, and comfortable seats, I am good to go.
I went through a clothing phase in my 30s. Now that I’m fat, in my 50s, and a couple of cheeseburgers away from shopping at the big-and-tall store, I value comfort over style. Actually, I am probably not too far away from always wearing those old-man-work-in-the-yard coveralls along with a pair of thick-soled old-dude Wal-Mart sneakers, and I’m OK with that.
It’s all about priorities.
Today the most precious non-human commodities in my home are bacon, eggs, and iPhone charge cords.
The bacon and eggs can be explained. The charge cord dilemma baffles me. I have a 19-year-old daughter who goes through cell phone charge cards at an alarming rate. She is a walking, talking black hole for cords. For years I suspected she had some type of secret Ebay store set up on the black-market that sold nothing but stolen cell phone charge cords. They disappear daily.
I have gone to drastic measures in our home to protect my charge cords. I have written my name on the tips of cords (not an easy task by the way). I have tried to purchase ugly, child-themed cords that she might not steal. We even filled her Christmas stocking with dozens of charge cords. They were gone within days. That little girl is dang near close to perfect in every aspect of her life, but she is – without a doubt – a hardened, stealthy, and sneaky iPhone charge-cord thief.
The 15-year-old boy seems to be able to hang on to his charge cords (as long as his sister isn’t stealing them), we just can’t keep enough eggs and bacon in the house to last more than a day or two.
As a kid, the two most precious food commodities in my home were milk and ketchup. We always seemed to run out of those two items as my brother and I would fight over the remains in the bottom of a bottle or carton.
At my current home, it’s all about eggs and bacon. I don’t know how any individual can eat so much of those two items. The human disposal that is my teenage son can almost eat his weight in bacon, and at 6’1” and 205 pounds, that’s a lot of pork for one fork.
He eats six eggs and four pieces of bacon every morning. Or is it four eggs and six pieces of bacon. I’m not sure, because it’s my wife’s job to keep the human disposal filled and fed, and she works hard at it. We purchase eggs by the flat and bacon in multiple pound containers.
We should live on a farm, though it would have to be a pretty big farm with dozens of chickens and pigs to get us through the month. I’d be able to wear my old-man coveralls on the farm, but I’d have to trade in those sneakers for some work boots.
The human disposal is actually a good cook. His preferred method for cooking bacon is in the oven. I like that.
That’s how we cook bacon at the restaurant. We have to cook so much that we lay it all out on full-size sheet pans lined with parchment paper and pop them into a 400-degree oven.
I prefer to cook bacon in my grandmother’s cast iron skillet. I will use a microwave if I am in a hurry and/or need the bacon extra crisp. I only cook bacon in the oven when I am cooking for a crowd. Though my son is considered a crowd when it comes to bacon consumption.
I have to go now. The battery on my phone is dead from lack of charging, and I have to put on my coveralls and sneakers so I can go to the grocery store to purchase more bacon. Wonder if I can pull of that look in Aspen?
Robert St. John is a restaurateur, chef and author of numerous books.