When people hear that I ate bacon for the first time this year, they either laugh, look shocked, or respond with “kosher?” The last response is definitely the most accurate. Up until this past September, I kept kosher, which means that for almost 18 years, I'd never tried bacon, cheese burgers, shrimp, the list goes on and on.
Keeping kosher is a Jewish tradition that prohibits you from eating animals with split hooves (read: pork, fish that don't have fins and scales) and dishes that combine dairy and meat. (To date, I still haven’t tried shellfish because my general dislike for fish makes me a bit hesitant.)
The Moment of Change
For some reason, I decided that college would be the perfect place for me to break kosher. Maybe it was because I no longer have to keep a kosher kitchen, or maybe it was just the newfound freedom of college, or the honest fact that I never really felt a connection between keeping kosher and my religious beliefs. Whatever the case, I ultimately decided that it was time for a change.
Every Saturday and Sunday, Wash U has an “all-you-can-eat” brunch buffet for 10 meal points, and of course, they serve up loads and loads of bacon. I turned to my friend one Saturday while we were in line for pancakes and said, "You know what? I'm going to try bacon!" I put a few strips of bacon on my plate and then we paid and sat down at a booth.
I took a bite, and holy cow (or rather... holy pig) was that the best freaking thing I've ever eaten?!My love for bacon only deepened as time went by. At LouFest, I put my email down for the bacon lovers club just to get a free bacon sample, and scarfed down a heavenly maple bacon donut. I am now a firm believer that maple and bacon together is the best food fusion known to mankind.
Don't worry, I don't eat bacon everyday, but I would say that I now have a deep passion for it. Do I feel guilty that I no longer keep kosher? To be quite frank, not really.
Recently, I did tell my family about my new obsession. My dad wasn't too happy, but eventually, he came around to it... and now he just jokes about it. I promised my family that, of course, when I come home, I'll be respectful and maintain the family kosher kitchen—and I won't even taunt them by ordering something with bacon on the menu when we go out to eat.
That said, I'd experienced firsthand the benefits of taking a risk or making a sacrifice in order to discover something new. In a way, my relationship with bacon is a direct analogy for my college career: I ventured into the unknown, and while I was scared at first, it turned out to be worth it because I found something that I truly love.