Fifteen Strips Versus Half a Pound

I'll be the first one to admit it. I've learned alot from my kids.

And not just minor things either. Some of the stuff I've picked up from them has been pretty valuable, like how it doesn't matter if you can't see the floor of your bedroom because of discarded clothing. That means that you don't have to vacuum much. Or how you don't need to prepare for something days ahead of time. That frees up more time to relax. There is no end to the life lessons I've learned from my daughter and son over the years, and now, at ages 28 and 25, they've made it an art form to enlighten their ever-lovin' mother, and in the process, get a laugh out of it.

Take, for example, the proper technique for ordering bacon at the butcher shop. On a recent trip out west to visit my daughter Jennifer, my son-in-law Bryan and my granddaughter Brooklyn, I announced that on Sunday morning I'd make a big country breakfast for the family -- bacon, eggs, hashbrowns, sausages -- a meal event known in our family as "The Razzle Dazzle Club." (It was my sister-in-law who coined the term "razzle dazzle" to describe the action of scrambling eggs.) Each time any of our far-flung family members gather for breakfast at any location around the world, we refer to it as a meeting of The Razzle Dazzle Club, and we linger lovingly over our empty plates afterward, drinking coffee and catching up with each other's news.

So a trip to the butcher shop was in order. Wait a minute. Why, I ask my daughter trained as a registered dietitian, do we have to go to a butcher shop for bacon? What's wrong with grocery store bacon in sealed one pound vac-packs? With one eyebrow raised she gave me that "Oh Mom!" look I've come to know and love. It means, there's a lesson on the way.

"The bacon in the grocery store is disgusting," she says. "It's all fatty and frizzles up to nothing when you fry it. I'm taking you to Miller's." Miller's, it turns out is the friendly neighbourhood butcher shop known for it's lean cuts and wide selection of meats that we, as humans, shouldn't be ingesting, according to Jen.

Nonetheless, we make the trek around the corner and lo and behold Jen is right. The bacon in Miller's is, indeed, very fine bacon -- but it doesn't come packed up at all. The customer has to request a specific amount. No problem, I've ordered meat from a butcher before. Just tell them how much you want, right?

Remembering Jen's disapproval rating on fatty meats, I vacillate on how much to order. Too little and my meat-loving husband and son-in-law would wonder why I didn't buy more. Too much and my dietitian daughter would ultimately be left with unused portions she may not cook up. I could feel a bead of sweat trickle down the back of my neck as the butcher glared at me from behind the counter.

"Could I please have half a pound of bacon," I timidly asked him. The moment definitely felt like a scene from a Seinfeld comedy -- the one about how to order soup from The Soup Nazi.

Carefully, the young butcher puts a stack of bacon on the scale, takes off a few strips, then adds one back on before he slides off the whole amount, tips it towards me and waits for my approval. Another trickle of sweat. Clearly, half a pound is not enough. The butcher waits. He looks at me. I look at him. I turn and look at Jen.

"Just give us 15 strips!", Jen bellows. And in an aside to me, she says, "He just wants to know how many strips you want!" Honestly, I never thought of that. Fifteen strips. Huh. It was perfect, not too much, not too little.

On the way out of the shop, after killing herself laughing at her mother dithering over a bacon order in a city butcher shop, Jen said, "I love ya, Mom, but next time, just tell the guy how many strips you want!"

Lesson learned. Safely back home, I chuckle to myself and fast-forward to the next time I buy bacon, knowing that I'll be flinging the vac-pack in my grocery cart like I always do.

Unless, of course, I find myself at the butcher's!