Jim Goldsworthy

My ex-wife and I didn’t agree on much during the five months, six days and six hours almost to the exact minute we were married (the ceremony was at 1 in the afternoon and she left at 7 in the evening) but we usually agreed on food.

This was 45 years ago, but I still remember the day we decided to try vegetable bacon.

It was made from alternating stripes of light and dark vegetable material that were meant to mimic the alternating stripes of fat and lean meat in a strip of real bacon.

That’s where any resemblance ended.

It didn’t look like bacon, it didn’t smell like bacon when it was frying (and produced no drippings that you could use to fry eggs), and it sure as hell didn’t taste like bacon.

I don’t recall exactly what it did taste like, but the brain has a merciful capacity for obliterating really unpleasant memories from our consciousness.

Believe me on this. You know how there are some things you wish you could forget? Be thankful for what you HAVE forgotten.

That I still remember as much as I do of my ex-wife reminds me that by no means was all of our relationship unpleasant and, as I said, we did agree on some things.

We both liked fast cars, and we both liked the same brand of frozen pizza. We both liked The Famous North End Tavern and had fun when we went out. For nearly a year before we got married, and for as many years as we ran into each other after we broke up until she moved away, we liked each other.

Another case of a perfectly good relationship being ruined by marriage. Granted, it doesn’t always happen that way, but it did to us.

We both really liked the chicken she stuffed with garlic cloves and roasted, but I didn’t like the fact that when I went to the fridge the next day to get what was left, it was gone. She didn’t like leftovers and had pitched it.

Neither of us liked washing dishes. She did the washing, and I did the drying. Eventually, she decided that I should take a turn washing, and she would dry.

I remembered what the Bill Cosby everybody used to love had said: If your wife asks (or tells) you to do something you don’t want to have to do every day for the rest of your life — like wash the dishes instead of drying them — screw it up royally the first time, and you’ll never have to do it again.

And so, when she handed me the dishcloth, I took my good old time and was SLOW. Other than forgetting the soap or water, that’s really about the only way you can screw up washing dishes.

Finally, she said, “Give me that!” and pried the dishcloth from my warm, live (and wet) hands.

The next evening, I draped the dishtowel over my forearm and said — paraphrasing what gladiators in the arena told Caesar — “We who are about to dry salute you.” 

I don’t know that this marked the beginning of the end, but it didn’t help matters any.

We agreed that the pseudo-bacon was some of the most awful stuff we ever ate and threw the rest of it away.

This is why, for the past four and a half decades, I have avoided consuming anything that masquerades as something else.

When I stopped smoking several years ago, I rejected the idea of using the e-cigarettes that we had yet to figure out could be really bad for you. 

I said, “It ain’t a real cigarette. The hell with it” and quit altogether. I don’t miss it.

When my doctor told me I had better lose weight or else, I looked for alternative food sources. This was particularly difficult at breakfast, because I was used to having a couple of Jimmy Dean sausage, egg and cheese muffins at my desk in the morning.

Cholesterol and triglycerides have never been a problem for me, but calorie-induced weight gain has. 

So I decided to try a breakfast sandwich Jimmy puts out that consists of a whole-grain muffin, cheese, egg white and turkey sausage.  

The only thing more tasteless than an egg white is unsalted popcorn, but this sandwich is delicious. The turkey sausage is well-seasoned, so I don’t even notice that no pork is present and the egg white has no flavor.

Now, I read in the Cumberland Paper that two companies are producing vegetarian patties that are supposed to look like raw beef before they’re even cooked.

I don’t give a damn what something looks like before it’s cooked. All I care about is what it tastes like after it is cooked.

And I have nothing against vegetarian food. As long as it tastes good, I will eat it ... but am not ready to embrace Andrew Zimmern’s philosophy on “Bizarre Foods,” which is “If it looksgood, eat it!” Liver and onions looks good.

The Associated Press said this: “To replicate the taste of beef, Impossible Foods said it scanned plants for molecules that would mimic a protein in meat that contains iron and makes blood red. It eventually settled on something called soy leghemoglobin, found in the root of soy plants.

“To make it, Impossible inserts synthetic versions of sections of soy DNA into yeast so the yeast produce soy leghemoglobin during fermentation,” said AP. (That’s saying a mouthful in more ways than one.)

A biochemist with Impossible Foods said, “No plant is actually touched in the process of us making this protein.”

Sounds a lot like “No animals were harmed in the process of making this vegetable bacon.”

I suppose I will have to find a fast-food joint that sells these vegetarian/meat-looking burgers and try one of them.

It’s entirely possible that I won’t be able to tell what the burger itself tastes like because of the lettuce, tomato, onion, sauce, cheese and pickles they will smother it with.

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