Mmmmm bacon... salty, savory, and everything in between; basically bacon is the epitome of a food on the umami spectrum.
True bacon is made from either the pork belly or the pork loin. Pork belly is the fatty portion of meat under the pig belly and the loin is a leaner cut from the back end or even “fatback” which is higher up into the back and shoulder region.Historically, bacon is a type of cured pork. There are a multitude of variations depending on culture, region, country...but even with that, bacon remains a beloved addition to any number of meals.
Love bacon? You’re not alone... in today’s world you can find bacon everything. Bacon donuts, lotion, chapstick, lollipops, car fresheners, you name it. Believe it or not there is even bacon attire; swimsuits, socks, dresses, undergarments. The bacon craze is HUGE.
Interestingly, the flavor quality of bacon actually generates a very specific neurobiological reaction. In short, it lights up the brain and signals deep food satisfaction in a way that not very many other cooked foods do. There are so many different ways of curing and preparing bacon that it is impossible to cover them all in this short article, suffices to say that a naturally cured, or cold smoked bacon with naturally occurring preservatives, like celery salts will always be your best choice for flavor and for wellness. One other great thing about naturally cured bacon? It comes from one single source. It’s not some random piece of meat mixed up with various other pieces of meat and then shoved into a sausage casing. Single source meats are easier to track if there’s an issue and they definitely pose less of a health hazard.
From a culinary perspective, seriously the bacon crazy is outrageous. I mean, what doesn’t go with bacon??? Salted caramel bacon ice cream? Yes, please. Bacon and dark chocolate fondue? Yep, I’ll have some of that. If you want to keep it simple and savory, how about frying up some cubed bacon and then throwing in some Brussels spouts or peas or cabbage or anything else for that matter. Then, of course, there’s the good old go to; bacon and eggs. So, really from a culinary perspective, there isn’t much that you can’t add bacon to.
From a health perspective... well, it’s bacon. It is fried, fatty meat. However, depending on the type of fried fatty meat, it actually can be better for you than other options. For example, single source, cold smoked, naturally preserved (not artificial nitrates), cuts of pork from a pig that has led a happy natural pig life are better choices for eating then even many conventionally processed steaks or other cuts of meat. So, bacon in moderation? Sure, if it’s from a good source, naturally grown and processed with naturally occurring nitrates like celery salt or if it’s cold smoked... it’s delicious and provides a good quality source of protein.
Fun little sidenote: The phrase “bringing home the bacon” doesn’t have anything to do with a paycheck. While there is a bit of disagreement about exactly how and why the Flitch trials began, earliest recorded history is 1104AD in the village of Dunmore in the UK. The trials continued each year since the first claimed occurrence until they began in earnest around 1400 AD. If a man would present himself to the church and prove that he had been forthright, patient, and steadfast for a year and day, with not arguments or disagreements with his wife, he would be sent home with a flitch of bacon. These trials still continue to today! Every four years in the town of Great Dunmore, UK, a trial is held and couples can compete for the flitch of bacon to bring home. The next trial happens to be on July 9th 2016. I smell a Bohemian Mojo Mission in the midst of all that bacon.