The Veggie Bacon-Cheeseburger —by Jinny Batterson
Our family celebrations have nearly always involved food. Back in the days when extended family dinners with more than ten members were permissible, we’d gather for most major holidays around an abundantly filled dining table.
Over time, food sensitivities for the older generation have increased; our consumption of sugar-laden or fat-laden choices has become more limited. Some in all generations have long-standing food allergies, which need to be factored in when cooking for the entire group. We span a broader range of ethnic cooking preferences than our parents’ generation ever thought of. Some in the generation now entering middle age stick pretty close to the “meat and potatoes” regimen of their childhoods, while others have decided to become vegetarian. They exhort the rest of us to follow their example.
Numerous studies point to a mainly plant-based diet as healthier both for individuals and for the environment. Plants generally have less cholesterol and other not-good-for-you’s. They require fewer inputs per usable calorie than any sort of meat. They do not require lots of land. Plants do not get confined in tightly spaced feeding pens like the less-humane livestock practices.
Before covid-19 appeared on the scene, I’d begun experiments with meat substitutes and with more veggie-friendly meals.
Of course, the current virus pandemic has temporarily upended our food system, along with diminishing the chances for big family gatherings. For the near term, we’ll continue to eat most of our meals at home in our nuclear families. No weekly restaurant explorations. Less frequent take-out meals, even, as some of our favorite area small restaurants close. Those of us still lucky enough to have incomes continue to have broader choices in our shopping and eating habits. The best choices we can make often involve shopping carefully at small local groceries and farmers’ markets to help them stay in business, plus contributing to local food banks and emergency food supply efforts.
For family meals, I’ve tried to continue a more-vegetarian pattern. However, I have yet to find a burger substitute that is quite as satisfying as a “real” meaty burger. When I recently looked into the fridge for inspiration for supper, I pulled out a couple patties of a not-yet-taste-tested brand of veggie burger.
“They’d taste much better with some bacon on top,” my husband interjected. Last week, when it had been his turn to mask up and brave the grocery stores, he’d brought home a substantial package of deli-style real bacon. Our stock of cheeses was generous, so I topped off each burger-plus-bacon-on-toast with a slice of Swiss, melting it via a few seconds in the microwave. The result was a good bit tastier than plain veggie burgers.
It was not until a later phone check-in with a non-vegetarian son that we got gently reminded of the incongruity of a veggie bacon-cheeseburger. As all of us continue to navigate this novel pandemic, may most of the incongruities we encounter be this benign. Please take good care, all!