The Day I First Tasted Bacon
OP - October 31, 2014, 02:28 PM
The Day I First Tasted Bacon
I didn’t have a single moment that made me leave Islam. But to put it in broad terms, its tyrannical attitudes, intolerance, hypocrisy and prejudice towards non believers pushed me away.
But even when you leave a religion, some of the taboos stay with you.
I actually had some dreams about eating pork after I left Islam. At first they made me feel sick. But eventually I had a transgressive urge to try it. For many Muslims, the thought of eating pork is almost akin to cannibalism. The dietary codes make it so. Even as a Muslim I’d eaten non halal chicken and beef, but pork was always the evil that dare not oink its name. Racists knew that, and from time to time stories of pork being thrown at mosques would fill me with disgust and guilt. Would I become a racist for eating pork? Would I become a debased non believer, whose dirtiness is equated by some Muslim bigots with eating the pig?
So I told my boyfriend, who was a porcine chomping infidel.
“I want to taste pork. What does it taste like? I heard it tastes like human flesh”
“If human flesh tastes like pork then human flesh tastes nice. I’ll be honest with you though, it depends on what kind of pork it is. Bacon is the best. Pepperami and chorizo too. Other than that it can be a bit, you know, bland.”
“Feed me bacon. I want to try some.”
A few days after my demand, we decided to go to a cafe in a park that he recommended as a place that made nice bacon sandwiches. We drove through mazy roads leading into the park and I felt a little sick, guilty and frightened, as well as excited, amazed and giddy. Similar to how I felt the first time I tasted alcohol, but even more profound in every sense of transgression, guilt, and disgust taboo.
Tasting alcohol brought guilt, but not a disgust taboo. Maybe because it was flesh I was about to consume, and that had some different kind of resonance on a primal level.
There is a Jewish joke about a rabbi who dreamed of tasting pork. Eventually he sneaked into a restaurant and ordered a whole roast piglet that even came with an apple in its mouth. As he was about to tuck in one of the worshippers from his synagogue walked into the bistro and the rabbi said ‘Will you look at these anti-semites, you ask for an apple and they serve it like this!”
We sat down. My boyfriend ordered two bacon sandwiches and two pots of tea. For him tea went well with bacon sandwiches.
Around us sat lots of pork eating infidels who had no idea of the profundity of what was about to happen, acting as if nothing taboo shattering was about to occur.
I made small talk. I tried to sniff the air to see if the smell of bacon was discernible. I heard sizzling. I sipped some tea. And soon the bacon sandwiches were placed on the table in front of us. My shoulders twitched. I asked, ‘How do we eat it?”
I was told that the protocol for eating bacon sandwiches was to squirt ketchup or brown sauce and then munch. Seconds of contemplation passed. My partner said I didn’t have to go through with it if I didn’t want to. I told him that I suspected he said that because he was greedy and wanted to eat my share.
I opened up the sandwich and there lay rashers of bacon. They didn’t look evil or racist. But here was the filth of disbelief and the flesh of the dirty pig. It looked quite innocent of all these charges.
It felt demonised, just like how some Muslims demonise things that aren’t Islamic. I became indignant at this intolerance, and with a knife and fork removed one rasher, sliced it up and ate bacon for the first time.
If Allah exists, and if we are made to be carnivorous, why would this God deny us this taste?
Bacon was delicious.
Imagine discovering a taste that you had never known before. Bacon tasted like nothing else. It was like discovering a new colour or sound. It was smoky, salty, and the texture was chewy and giving at the same time.
So many nice things are forbidden to us by a trivial God. In the grand scheme of things of what he forbids – what we may think, who we may love, how we should live – bacon being forbidden is relatively trivial. But sometimes the trivial is itself of importance.
And so I became even further what is hated by many – not just an apostate, but a pork eating apostate.
I demanded we order pepperami pizza a few days later. It was very nice. I tasted chorizo and cooked it in an omelette. It was also nice.
My boyfriend said that the pork sausage patties in McDonalds breakfast McMuffins were delicious. I demanded he take me to try one at the weekend, but he wanted a lie in, and they were only served until 11am.
So another day I went to the drive through alone and ordered a McMuffin. I rolled to the service window and a Muslim lady called Sajda held this transgression in her hand.
I stiffened in atavistic fear. I became the rabbi in the bistro caught in the act of ordering an apple roasted piglet. I felt shame, guilt, and horror, but Sajda just smiled at me.
She probably thinks I’m Sikh or Hindu, I thought to myself.
Or maybe she doesn’t care. Maybe she’s eaten a sausage McMuffin herself on the sly. Maybe she’s an apostate too. Maybe that is why she’s smiled at me.
I smiled back and thanked Sajda, drove to the side and parked the car, unwrapped the McMuffin and bit in. Fried hash brown, egg, muffin and pork sausage. It was even better than bacon.
I wolfed it down like a hungry, starved criminal. When I finished it I didn’t feel like a criminal any longer. It tasted like I was free.