Plain Dealer asks for ‘Bacon Love’
My sister notified me that one of the few remaining local rags was asking for some sort of submissions covering recipes, stories and some kind of fantasies involving bacon. I got an auto-response that the editor is on vacation till the 4th so I was either too late or way to early, but what follows was my submission.
The noble swine has given the world a plethora of culinary treats, from the divine, year-long cured Jamón ibérico of Spain to the vinegary tang of a fresh jar of pickled pigs feet. But of all of delectable dishes and curious cuts that your average pig offers, nothing can beat the cured and brined belly we know affectionately as bacon.
I’m not talking about Back bacon or British bacon, two very ham-like preparations that are delicious in their own rights (especially when served, respectively, under Hollandaise sauce ala Eggs Benedict or next to some beans and fried tomato as in a traditional English Breakfast). I am talking about good old ‘streaky bacon’: the salted, smoked, belly-meat bacon that you get at you local greasy-spoon diner, a half pound of which should come sitting atop a mountain of greasy home fries with any respectable breakfast order.
Bacon-mania has swept this nation and it’s easy to see why. Bacon is not just a side dish reserved for breakfast. It’s more than just a third of an acronym sandwich. It’s greater than just a crumbled salad enhancer. Bacon is America. And I’m not talking about South America or that little hamlet in Limburg, I’m talking about the United States of America, fabled purveyor of the Bacon Cheeseburger, Loaded Bacon Fries, Bacon Wrapped Hot Dog and the Bacontini, a dry martini made with bacon infused vodka and served with a swizzle stick made of extra crispy bacon. I kid you not.
Bacon, by the way, had earned a reputation for being an evil excess when, in fact, the 45% of its fat is mono-unsaturated as well as being oleic acid, the same fat found in olive oil. In moderation, bacon’s risks are far outweighed by the healing effect it has on the average meat-eater’s psyche. On top of that, just about everyone loves bacon! I personally know vegetarians who still drool at the smell of cooking bacon. I’m drooling just typing the word bacon!
Consider, in this time of economic crisis, that bacon is made from pork bellies, which are traded as a commodity as important as corn, oil and gold!
Bacon leaves not only a delicious taste in your mouth, a warm feeling of contentment in your belly and an aroma in your house that rivals even the most expensive of air fresheners, it also renders off a considerable amount of heavenly, flavorful fat that can be used to turn sautéed onions into caramelized magic, create a warm dressing that would make even an old and bitter Popeye enjoy spinach again, and can, by the teaspoon full, create a kind of inexpensive culinary magic we’ve forgotten since the previous Great Depression.