A few months back I applied to be a bacon blogger. Yes, I too was surprised that such a job existed. As part of the application process I had to write a 600 words or less blog about my favorite bacon memories. Time has progressed and I didn’t get the gig, so I’m posting the story here. Enjoy.
The Pig is a magical creature. There’s scarcely a part of the pig that isn’t, either naturally or through some culinary witchcraft, delicious. From the mild, juicy tenderloin to the full pork explosion of chicharrón; from the lip smearing decadence of Jamon Iberico to the southern tradition of barbecue Boston butt; it’s as if the gods looked down from Olympus and, in a rare moment of pity, gave to us mere mortals a porcine gift. Because more than chops and roasts, better than hocks and hams, tastier than ribs and wursts, there’s bacon. We may not be gods but at least we have bacon.
I have a friend who followed a kosher diet. Outwardly I respected her choice while inwardly I railed and screamed at the stars, “but there’s bacon!” Maybe the stars heard me and intervened because she recently posted to Facebook that she’s eating bacon. You’d think she had a baby or kicked a drug habit, I was so proud of her. Her next several posts were all about bacon. How she dreams about it. How she cooks pancakes in bacon grease. Her latest post reads, “Bacon on my salad is changing my life.”
Of course it is. It’s bacon. Bacon is life. To know bacon is to know love. I think, therefore I eat bacon. Much has been said about bacon over the years. None of it does bacon justice. Its transcendence is tantalizing yet terrifying. It resists all attempts to quantify its taste and appeal. We’re told it’s bad for our health but we crave it nonetheless. My favorite bacon memories are any in which the supply of bacon is unlimited. Even that paper thin, factory produced, Old Country Buffet bacon fills the bacon shaped hole in my heart.
Years ago, before the bacon craze of today, I ordered breakfast at a local restaurant in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. I asked for a side of bacon with my eggs. The waitress replied with the most beautiful question I’d ever heard: “What kind of bacon?”
What kind of bacon? My head swum. With quivering lips I stuttered, “What kinds do you have?”
“Applewood, maple, and peppered,” she said as if bored of blowing people’s minds. I couldn’t possibly choose. So I didn’t. “All three” I managed to grunt.
I don’t remember anything else about that restaurant. I don’t remember its name or how my eggs turned out. I don’t even remember how I got home. All I do remember is a plate of thick center cut bacon and a Zen feeling of contentment and being one with the universe. The rashers snapped with just enough resistance but yielded quickly as I chewed. The flavors of pepper, Applewood, and maple syrup were present but only as background singers to the real star of the show. It was bacon nirvana.
Bacon, or at the very least cured pork, has played a part in most of the great meals of my life.
The first time I had guanciale, essentially bacon from the pig’s jowls, it was home cured by a chef friend of mine and served at a secret dinner, wrapped around a locally sourced organic strawberry. I must have chewed it for ten minutes. Not because it was tough but because I didn’t want the experience to end.
And I still don’t. Bacon is not created equal. Some bacons are better than others. But all bacon is better than all other food. This is food fact número uno. It can turn a lifetime Kosher eater into a bacon fanatic. Does it deserve its own blog, reviewer, and a place on our plates?
You bet your bacon.