Every Father’s Day, women struggle with the eternal question: What do men want?
Yes, the kids are supposed to take care of this. But experienced parents know the truth: The Mother’s Day/Father’s Day issue usually falls to the other parent to make helpful “suggestions” (and by “suggestions,” I mean: Getting a card yourself and strongly suggesting that your kids sign it.)
This year, I thought I had it licked, with two candidates. The first is a new invention, the Perfect Bacon Bowl. The existence of this product had already been mentioned around my own dinner table, in tones that suggested interest.
If you haven’t seen the ads, this is a black plastic mold shaped a lot like a lemon squeezer. You get two molds in a $10 box. You wrap three strips of bacon around each mold, then microwave or bake it to create edible cups. A moat around the sides catches the considerable amount of grease that three slices of bacon can produce.
My apologies to the Charlotte-based business Edison Nation, which helped Bacon Bowl inventor Thom Jensen of Salt Lake City get this to market, but sorry, guys. My experience was far from perfect.
I tried three times, twice in the microwave and once in the oven. In the microwave, the bacon kept popping off the mold and collapsing midway through the cooking time. I tried lower power and pressing the bacon back in place with a paper towel, but still got something that looked like a pottery class reject.
The problem – dare I say it? – is shrinkage. Bacon naturally gets smaller as it cooks. If you don’t arrange your bacon very loosely, it tightens around the mold until it becomes a porcine blood pressure cuff.
It worked better in the oven, but it still took 40 minutes to end up with a bacon tea cup that held two spoonfuls of scrambled egg. Not exactly a gustatory delight.
My other candidate turned out to be better. At first, I thought Steven Raichlen’s new book, “Man Made Meals: The Essential Cookbook for Guys” (Workman, $24.95), was kind of a joke. Recipes do include a pitchfork steak and whole chapters with titles like “Steer” and “Birds and a Rabbit.”
Give Raichlen credit, though. After countless books on grilling and barbecue, he knows something about instruction. His book includes the unexpected, like a tofu stir-fry (for the enlightened dad) and some good tips on how to cook (for the newbie dad).
Every year, my colleague Peter St. Onge and I lament the logic of the “dad ads,” the things that get pitched as Father’s Day gifts. Are all men really just the sum of their stereotypes?
Raichlen’s new book works both sides of the aisle, with essays like “A Guy’s Best Friend: Salad” and a recipe for Belgian Beer Brownies. (Try not to think about putting beer brownie batter in a bacon bowl.)
So what do men want? Here’s my suggestion: Give a man a cookbook and let him cook his bacon however he pleases.