By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3
I feel guilty. I’ve done a bad, bad thing. And yet I can’t say I wouldn’t do it all over again given the opportunity and the same strong temptation.
It started early this afternoon while I was at an exercise class. My abdominal muscles were screaming after a few rounds of sit-ups, so I mentally chanted these words to keep myself going: “Bacon tomato sandwich, bacon tomato sandwich, bacon tomato sandwich.”
Waiting for me on the kitchen counter was a small brown paper sack full of garden tomatoes I brought home last weekend from my parents’ house. Those deep red summer delicacies were practically begging me to slice them open, layer them with crispy bacon and tuck them into a bed of soft bread slathered with mayo.
Later that evening, after the kids’ nighttime baths were done and they were tucked into their beds reading books, I made a beeline for that paper sack of tomatoes. Tom was at a late business dinner with some co-workers, so I was all alone in the kitchen. I started frying bacon and then plucked the biggest tomato out of the bag to slice it. As the bacon sizzled and popped, I smoothed creamy white mayo over two slices of fresh bread.
As soon as the bacon was crispy enough, I scooped the strips out of the skillet and started assembling my masterpiece, carefully salting each tomato slice before placing it gingerly on the bread. Then I settled into Tom’s recliner, which I never get to sit in when he’s home, and I reveled in my summer sandwich, a tall glass of iced tea and total and complete domination over the remote control. It was bliss.
I swallowed the last bite of my sandwich and took the empty plate back into the kitchen, intending to put it in the dishwasher and return to my TV show. But then I saw those last three leftover slices of tomato sitting next to one lonely strip of bacon. I hadn’t been able to fit all of them onto the sandwich and there was no one else to eat them. I hovered over the leftovers trying to decide what to do. I could sprinkle some salt over those last few slices and eat them with a fork, with a few bites of bacon to top it off. Or…I could just make another sandwich.
But everybody knows you can’t have a bacon and tomato sandwich with just one little piece of bacon. It wouldn’t work. To have a successful sandwich, the ratio of crunchy bacon to juicy tomato has to be just right. It’s a fine balance. But back-to-back bacon-laden sandwiches? At best, it was indulgent and, at worst, it was a blatant cardiac sin. After all, I did feel mostly full after the first sandwich – mostly. I mean, there was probably a little room left in my stomach. And that’s when I heard that little internal voice chanting at me again: “Bacon tomato sandwich, bacon tomato sandwich, bacon tomato sandwich.”
I was alone in the kitchen. No witnesses. And how many times a year does a person have a chance to eat bacon and tomato sandwiches when the tomatoes are in their prime – fresh from the garden? I couldn’t let them sit there and waste. It wouldn’t be right. Didn’t my dad always tell me there were people starving all over the world? So I convinced myself the noble thing to do would be to fry a few extra pieces of bacon and make that second sandwich. And that’s exactly what I did.
By the time I finished off the last few bites of the encore sandwich, I was painfully aware that I had passed “full” at least half a sandwich ago. And that’s when the guilt pangs set in, knowing the extra helping of bacon and mayo probably cancelled out whatever health benefit my workout had given me earlier in the day.
So I’m reasoning it away with the following logic: I can exercise again tomorrow and the day after that and the day after that. But garden fresh tomatoes are here for a limited time only. Gotta eat them while the eating is good. And, boy, is it good.