Several years ago we moved out to West Tennessee. I figured it would be similar to home (Middle Tennessee) and probably not as breath taking as the East side of the state, but I was willing to see for myself. I saw. . . nothing. When we moved out there, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I quickly figured it out: FLAT. Very, very, flat. And blazing hot. With tornadoes. There were cotton and soy bean fields for miles. After we moved into our apartment in town, I found myself waking up in the morning and longing for any sort of tree lined view.
After the wedding, we decided to start looking for a house. We found a couple we liked and locked down a realtor.
The first meeting we had with him, he invited us into his office. The other half of the building was he and his wife’s house. “Easier this way. Now we just wake up, shit, shower, shave and stumble into the office.” I looked at Bill and then back at the realtor. He was serious as all get out. As we gathered our papers and maps to get ready to go, the guy says to Bill, “Do you need a tripper?” For those of you unfamiliar with the term, a “tripper” is typically a plastic cup filled with booze, wine or beer. Maybe it’s a Tervis. Maybe a glass. Red solo cup or even a gas station to go cup. Either way, fill it up and go. Forget the formality of LAW. Irrelevant. I’m pretty sure this guy was cousins with the Sheriff, so no worries there (not).
My husband hesitated for a brief moment and as I watched his mouth say “No,” the realtor poured him a 20 oz glass of Jack Daniels on the rocks. No mixer, no Diet Coke, just straight Jack. “Alright y’all, let’s go!” If your mouth is agape at all, you can imagine what my face looked like. Bill just looked at me and shrugged. True to the old school hand book, the men took the front seat and I was left to enjoy the cotton fields from the back of an SUV.
We toured every inch of that county it seemed. While we were touring, Bill was taking tiny sips out of that glass. House after house. Road after road. Tiny little sips. The houses were all great too. Each one with “phenomenal upgrades” like granite, floating hardwood floors, a storm shelter, his and her this and that, large backyards, iron doors, blah blah, so forth and so on. Buying a house is the easy part, finding a house is an entirely different beast. Actually, finding a house while your realtor is intoxicated is an entirely different beast.
So, the three of us are cruising down a dirt road when the guy realizes he’s made a wrong turn. I sort of scoffed at this, because I knew he was born and raised in this town out in West Tennessee. Then I realized he finished off his whiskey before we left the house and he was probably feeling right as rain. As he’s backing up the car, he asks, “Bill, how you make your cornbread?” My husband, a marvelous chef on his own, was all, “Uhh…” and from there, we learned how to make cornbread.
Specifically, cornbread in an iron skillet.
Step by painstaking step.
The realtor then reached his hand over to hold onto the back of Bill’s seat as he drove in reverse. “You save your bacon fat Bill? Because I’ll tell you what, I don’t trust no man who don’t. You do, don’t you?”
At this point, I sort of kicked the back of his seat, prodding a quick response. “Oh sure man! Anytime I cook bacon, you bet!” Now look, we hadn’t been storing our bacon fat, but you know, if we cooked bacon in our tiny apartment, yeah. We saved it. Did we have a pantry of mason jars full of lard? No. I think the realtor did. And his wife. And his granny. I bet they bathed in it and I wouldn’t put it past this guy to probably smear it on his face at night. His face was awfully tan, taut and smooth.
Eventually we called it a day. As the we pulled back into the office/house combo, Bill got out and opened the door for me. As he did, he whispered, “I’m going to act like I’ll be driving, but I’m handing you the keys. This guys is fucking crazy.” Stepping out of the SUV, my husband hands me our car keys. He stands next to the driver side door, waving goodbye, exchanging pleasantries and what not. That realtor didn’t have one foot in the door before Bill was coming around the back side of the car, trading spots with me. “We gotta get a new realtor. Who gets clients drunk like that? I couldn’t be rude and just not drink the whiskey!” Luckily for us, the planets aligned and we couldn’t decide on what type of house we wanted. A few short weeks later, we were moving to Atlanta. Divine intervention I suppose. It’s been over five years since we were trapped in that SUV with that guy, but we have never forgotten what he said. Anytime we cook bacon, one of us will throw out our thickest Delta accents and say, “Hey man, you save your bacon fat? Cause if you don’t, then you cain’t be trusted.”
Last night I was frying bacon and as I took it out of the pan, I thought about saving it. Instead, I tossed in some onions, chicken, garlic and what not. Soaked it up man, soaked it up. Tonight I cooked more bacon for BLT’s. I couldn’t help but crack up as I poured the grease into my handy glass bowl that I keep next to the stove. “You savin’ your bacon fat? Huh punk? Huh?”
Honestly though, how could you not save your bacon fat? That shit is delicious. You can use it to grease pans, add flavor to everything under the sun, make cornbread and even help dislodge tiny plastic hammers that are stuck in your kids mouth (man, what a day that was). I suppose it never dawned on me that some folks don’t do this. I’ll assume it’s the vegetarians. I don’t think tofu grease is something to shake a stick at, y’know?
So tell me this-
If you don’t save your bacon grease, should I still trust you?