The internet hath asked for the recipe for caramelized bacon and the internet giveth. I found the recipe in The Essential New York Times Cookbook by Amanda Hesser, which has become my cooking Bible. It's very simple. Take a one-pound box of brown sugar, dump it into a bowl and stir in 1/4 cup water. Take a pound of (ideally best-quality, thick-sliced) bacon and dredge each piece in the sugar. Place the bacon pieces in a large, rimmed, parchment-lined baking pan. Bake at 400 for 8-13 minutes per side. Allow to cool and cut into little pieces.
A while back, I wrote a piece bitching about why Charlottesville's Downtown Mall is not a welcoming place to people who don't intend to spend any money. There were some supportive comments, but also some rumblings that I was whiny, cheap, and un-funloving. Really? Is it so improbable that the need to sit down in public is not always coupled with a desire to purchase a beverage or a meal? The one scenario that keeps coming to mind is a mother with a nursing infant. What are you supposed to do if you're downtown and your baby needs to be fed? (To anyone who says "bottle" a big hand is going to come out of your computer and smack you in the head.) Of course, the last place you would ever park yourself to publicly nurse a baby would be in front of a crowd of rowdy homeless people. On the other hand, should your only other choice be to take a screaming baby into a restaurant and order something? Or flee to your car? Or walk all the way home with a hungry, crying baby? Or what if you are elderly? What if you are recovering from illness or surgery and you just need to rest your legs for five effing minutes?
Now the issue has hit the local news, as the city removes more benches from the mall, for the specific purpose of booting a crowd of rowdy homeless people. I totally get it that these people are annoying on the Mall. I am on the Downtown Mall a lot--usually passing through on my walk home from work. I put on my don't-fuck-with-me face and breeze past the panhandlers and they don't bother me, but I can see how some people would find them intimidating. On the other hand, they are people. Human beings. It seems a bit, I don't know, medieval, to snatch away amenities to keep "that sort" away from the mall. What's next? A designated homeless-only area?
The thing is, there has never been a time or a culture that didn't have public beggars. You can't make them disappear by removing benches from a public place. There are no public benches along the stretch of W. Main St. near the ABC store yet there is often a sketchy group gathered there. What's the solution there? Remove the liquor store? Remove the trolley stop? Nobody can buy liquor or ride a bus because a few people want to hang around and be obnoxious?