Sex and Bacon
Why I Love Things
That Are Very Bad for Me

Sarah Katherine Lewis

    Almost every person has something secret he likes to eat. He is downright furtive about it usually, or mentions it only in a kind of conscious self-amusement, as one who admits too quickly, "It is rather strange, yes --- and I'll laugh with you."
--- Serve It Forth
Mary F. K. Fisher

Sarah Katherine Lewis spent ten years as a sex worker. She's now retired from that particular job and lives in Seattle where she writes books, never has enough money to pay the bills, and has a passion for pumpkins.

Pumpkins? She tells us of a study by Dr. Alan Hirsch of Chicago's Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation which showed that men are "most aroused by the spicy sweet scent of pumpkin pie combined with lavender." (Women get turned on by the odor of fresh cucumber and a licorice candy, Good & Plenties.)

Lewis offers up a recipe for pumpkin pie (with lots of heavy whipping cream and large eggs). You are to prepare it just before your loved one comes over for dinner and, presumably, love. She even ends Sex and Bacon with a recipe for pumpkin soup ... which includes bacon. In fact, she puts bacon in damn near everything, has a recipe for dinner which consists of nothing but four pounds of bacon. Because of this, you'd think that she'd be roly-poly but the cover shows her to be anything but.

Her method of cooking bacon is, by my lights, spot on: don't cook it too fast; use a heavy skillet; get it brown but not burnt; lay out the cooked bacon on double paper towels (above and below). She forgets to mention that you should pour off the grease every minute or so unless you want to spend the rest of the day wallowing in hot bacon fat, and so the bacon will be extra crispy.

§     §     §

Lewis' writings remind me of the austere food-writer from a half-century ago, Mary F. K. Fisher. She, too, equated good food with good love, but M. F. K. Fisher --- who often appeared in The New Yorker --- certainly wrote more chastely than the present author.

Sex and Bacon is not a cook book per se but a mix of sex shop stories, personal history, and interesting recipes for tomato sauce, black beans, corncakes and the ever-present pumpkin. The stories of being a sex worker at Butterscotch's Live Lingerie Adult Tanning can be awful. For example, the tale of pumpkin pie is followed by one of a client and his addiction to Baby Ruths which (if you have a fondness for this candy in particular or chocolate in any form) I urge you to skip entirely.

Notwithstanding that dark memory, Lewis is a gastronome with a difference. It seems that she is willing to put everything in her mouth ... outside of cheese. She confesses to eating whale and loving it. And Lewis is probably the only food writer in memory who can report on a client who, guck, drank urine: "swirling his stripper's liquid waste on his tongue like Sémillon Blanc."

Much of Sex and Bacon is a hoot, although her stories of breaking up with a lover can be genuinely sad (on her on-line blog, Ms. Lewis calls herself a "psychotic suicidal depressive.") She's Jezebel, Moll Flanders, Madam Bovary, Lady Chatterley, and Irma S. Rombauer all rolled in one. What she leaves us with is a spirit of honest experimentation in the kitchen ... along with a warning for "Dudes:"

    Don't mess with porn. Don't go to strip clubs ... don't pay for domination, get lap dances, get "massages," or rent women to watch you spank it.

"Take the money you were going to spend on a month's subscription to a corny adult website with the same tired images you've seen ten zillion times before and ask a smart, pretty girl out."

    I swear to you that hanging out with an actual female is much more fun than paying for the privilege of becoming just another john. Remember the sex industry objectifies you just as much as it objectifies its performers.

--- Lolita Lark
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