NYD BLT

NYD BLTI’ve never been a big fan of New Year’s Eve. It’s hard for me to get excited over cheap hats, $150 prix fixe menus, and drunk blonde women walking the streets at 3am barefoot because they can no longer manage to balance themselves atop their stilettos.

But New Year’s Day is another story all together. I enjoy waking early to enjoy the strange quietness of the city while last evening’s noise makers sleep it off.

Perhaps I love New Year’s Day because it’s the first day of another year entirely. Fresh calendar. Fresh start. Fresh underpants. Fresh everything. I don’t believe in the magic powers of the New Year’s Baby, but there is a remarkable sort of placebo effect to the whole business, which still manages to work on me despite the fact that I know that time and Pope Gregory XIII’s calendar have handed me a giant sugar pill. I swallow it gladly every January 1st without the aid of water. Because champagne is infinitely more preferable in helping this particular medicine go down.

For the past few years, my friends Sean and Paul host what they call “NYD BLT”– a New Year’s Day Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato party. The sole price of admission is a bottle of bubbly. It is an extremely fair exchange of goods, considering the fact that you are then allowed to consume as much home-cured Chinese Five Spice bacon, hand-made tomato jam, and freshly baked Pullman loaves as you dare.

I’d decided to turned down all party invitations in December, because rooms filled with people filled with Christmas cheer seem downright terrifying when one is in mourning. But a top floor flat filled with daylight and people I know drinking sparkling wine and eating sandwiches feels like a safe place to be when one is finally tired of self-imposed seclusion.

Everything was more or less the same as it was in years past– the seating arrangements, the sandwich assembly line in the kitchen, the guests, the little bottle of poppy seed liqueur on the drinks table. But something seemed markedly different to me, even though it was exactly the same as it had always been– the bacon.

NYD BaconOr rather, my perception of it. As I stood in line in the kitchen waiting for my bread to toast, my attention went directly to the platter of cured, sliced, streaky, crispy pork belly that was just out of my reach. I was reminded how, only a month earlier, I saw bacon in terms of grief and loss, but on the first afternoon of the year, it was the star attraction of a party celebrating hope and bright futures and new beginnings. It felt weird– as though I were about to betray my own mother by eating a bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich. On the other hand, it also felt completely natural, like I was ready for a little happiness bacon. Or, as the Germans might call it, Glückspeck. Might, I say, because I think I just made that word up.

I finished my first glass of champagne and decided I was far too hungry and in no mood to feel conflicted about eating a BLT. It gets a bit tiring burdening ingredients with so much meaning all the time. For two minutes, I allowed myself to become one of those annoying people who photograph their food before eating it, then I poured myself another glass of bubbly, and went to town on the sandwich. It felt good going down– not like betrayal in the slightest. The second one tasted even better, washed down by a third glass of champagne. Or whatever fizzy lifting drink we’d moved on to by then.

It felt strangely liberating eating the happiness bacon, though I didn’t share that with anyone in the room at the time. Instead, I felt free to talk about other important things with my friends. Things like the proper way to pronounce “caulk”, why I have a deep fondness for Mel Brooks, and where on earth did all those severed feet come from that washed up on the British Columbian coast line a few years ago? It was lovely to spend the afternoon among people who all seemed to share my happy buzz and when I’d had my fill, I said my goodbyes–which took an hour to do– and went on my way.

NYD Tomato JamI thought I’d take a little walk to clear my head of all the champagne and bread and bacon. I thought about what I’d like to accomplish this year– losing the 20 pounds that’s crept its way onto my body over the past couple of years, shed my status as a hermit by seeing friends more and seeing a bit more of the world, working on my new book idea that hopefully publishers won’t shoot down this time. And to constantly remind myself that my life doesn’t stop just because someone else’s does, that time doesn’t stand still for anyone, and that maybe I do have a future after all after months of feeling otherwise. I was so wrapped up in my thoughts that I’d hardly noticed that my little walk took me the three and a half miles home. Or that I was a little sweaty, but completely sober by the time I’d arrived at my front door.

I have absolutely no idea what 2016 will bring for me. It could be completely wonderful or totally awful or, more likely, a combination of the two. But I have to tell you that kicking things off with a trifecta of good friends, champagne, and Glückspeck is one hell of a way to  turn the page of one’s calendar, bacon-greasy fingers and all.

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About Michael Procopio

I write about food and am very fond of Edward Gorey. And gin.
This entry was posted in Holidays, Meatness, Sandwiches and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to NYD BLT

  1. Sean says:

    Here’s to many more days of Glückspeck, friend.

  2. SMITH BITES says:

    This makes me smile, Michael; I wish I had the opportunity to see you more often. Happy New Year! xo

  3. MaggieToo says:

    After my mother died (already ten years ago, amazingly), I found that my grief began to lift a bit at exactly the same time that the end-stage, diminished pictures of her in my head began to be replaced by pictures of her from a happier, more vital time in her life. I so wish that same relief for you, Michael, and soon.

    Along with wishes for a productive and healthful New Year for you. And for all your bacon-loving circle.

    • MaggieToo– It took years for me to replace those mental pictures of my brother. I know exactly what you’re talking about.

      Here’s hoping you and your circle have a wonderful New Year, too.

  4. Tina says:

    I am hoping that 2016 brings more happy times for you Michael, with friends who share bacon and bubbly, keep writing, your book will be fabulous, you have a gift. Cheers to 2016!

  5. Irvin says:

    Cheers and happy new year to you Michael! To 2016!

  6. carole says:

    Lost Mom peacefully Dec 23 so Xmas was rough for me too. I like New Year’s Eve as much as the next gal but this year? Blew It Out. Took me 3 days to get over it. Next year I’m going to stay home, be sane and host a NYD BLT party myself and give you (and Sean and Paul) the credit. Thanks Michael!

  7. Michael, as someone who is walking down the same road as you have been (only with my dad), and as someone who has always been an early to bed, early to rise anti-New Year’s Eve/pro-New Year’s Day person, this piece was comforting, encouraging and inspiring. Here’s to 2016.

    • Kate,

      I’m always surprised (and delighted) to learn that I could be a source of inspiration to anyone. I know we’re on the same road. Thank you for your lovely words. I hope 2016 is a marked improvement upon 2015.

  8. I don’t even know you but somehow I know you will publish a book someday. And I for one, will buy it.

  9. Anne says:

    Michael,

    Inspiring and delicious. Any chance of sharing recipe for five spice bacon? I do Marcella’s lentil soup (lentils for luck) and prosecco for New Year’s Day celebration. But bacon, tomato jam, toasted Pullman bread beats lentils anyday.
    Keep at the book…you are a born writer. Here’s to a new year of more wonderful than not.

  10. Stacy Slagor says:

    2016-the year of Glückspeck. Thank you for all that you write, I look forward to reading your book. Happy New Year!

  11. Peggy says:

    I think your mom would be glad for you to be happy. And she’d probably also like one of those awesome BLTs. (Although of course I never met her. But in both cases, who wouldn’t?)

    • Peggy,

      I think she’d be glad for me to be happy, too. She would have definitely wanted one of these sandwiches. Sadly, she wasn’t able to eat such things in life. I’m hoping she gets to eat whatever the hell (heaven) she wants to now.

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