Over the weekend, Honey and I went to a backyard barbeque, hosted by our friend, Belle. There were hot dogs and hamburgers available for pretty much every diet I can think of. We had our choice of all-beef, pork, turkey or tofu/veggie burgers or hotdogs with three different kinds of buns—including gluten free ones for me. (I was so touched to be remembered.) Even though no one asked it of the guests, I had decided to bring baked beans, because what is a Southern (California) barbeque without baked beans? When I went to make them, though, I had a decision to make: do I include bacon or no?
I know, I know. Everyone eats bacon right now. But that’s not really true, is it? For instance, people who keep Kosher—actual Kosher, as opposed to “Bacon counts as Kosher”—don’t. Nor do vegetarians or vegans. Nor do people who are watching their cholesterol or their salt. The question that faced me was “how inclusive do I want these beans to be?” How many people or groups do I want to tell that their presence is not important to me? How many people should know that I have no interest in breaking bread with them?
Do you think I’m being overly dramatic? Possibly. But I will say this, as someone who often is left out of a communal meal, usually unintentionally, it is huge, HUGE to me, when someone remembers that I can’t eat the same way they do. I don’t have to sit off to the side and watch while everyone else enjoys their meal, a fake smile plastered on my face, while I insist, “No, I’m fine. Really.” Because by that point, what else can I do?
I left the bacon out.
I left the Worcestershire sauce out, too (anchovies). And you know what? The beans were so flavorful, they didn’t actually need that stuff anyway.
Later that day at the barbeque, I had a woman tell me with wide eyes, “I haven’t had baked beans in sooo long!” I heard the emotion in her voice, and I nodded. Because everyone puts bacon in. As someone who faces daily challenges when it comes to something as basic as eating a meal, I completely understand what it means to be able to enjoy the same foods as everyone else.
To make sure everybody eats:
This recipe was designed to be gluten free, but if you don’t have that issue, you can replace the Tamari with either soy sauce or Worcestershire sauce.
It is not soy-free, but it could be, if you replace the Tamari with Liquid Aminos.
To make it sodium free, replace the salt with an equal amount of Mrs. Dash.