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Bacon: Food For Our Times October 11, 2008

Posted by Chuck Musciano in Random Musings.
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In these difficult times, filled with economic uncertainty and political unrest, people turn to familiar things that provide deep, soothing comfort. As a result, I predict a sudden uptick in the demand for… bacon. Crispy, chewy, salty, greasy, wonderful bacon. Hot or cold, strips or bits, is there any food so perfectly soothing and comforting?

Bacon, on its own, provides three of the four fundamental food groups: protein, fat, and salt. Bacon is missing only sugar, the fourth group. As a result, bacon is more soothing than even chocolate, which only provides fat and sugar. (Those in need of the ultimate comfort food should turn to chocolate covered bacon, which may be more decadent than most people can handle).

Who can resist a delicious strip of bacon? Just a bite, chewy and salty and hot, pushes back all the concerns of the moment and provides a brief but rejuvenating respite of pure food enjoyment. When camping, we literally cannot cook bacon fast enough. People will eat bacon as quickly as it is pulled from the grill, and we normally cook two or three pounds before the initial demand is sated and we begin to accumulate a backlog of bacon to eat with the rest of breakfast.

And there is bacon’s true appeal: it makes everything taste better. Pancakes for breakfast? A strip of bacon makes it that much better, adding a salty counterpoint to the syrup and pancakes. Eggs? Of course bacon makes them better. A sandwich? Is there any sandwich that isn’t improved by a few strips of bacon laid across the top?

I could go on and on. Potatoes? Of course. Other vegetables? People add bacon to any vegetable to make it better. Fruit? Yes, even fruit: melon is infinitely more delicious with a delicate slice of prosciutto draped across it. I’ll bet you could wrap a grape in bacon and it would be wonderful: salty, juicy, sweet, and chewy, a burst of juice followed by a lingering salty finish. I recently had a wonderful hors d’eourve that was a crisp square of fried prosciutto topped with pear marmalade and a bit of parmesan cheese. Dairy, fruit, and bacon in each mouthful. You could eat them until you ruptured an internal organ.

Bacon is so good atop any food that I cannot understand why fine restaurants do not have a baconniere. This person would roam the restaurant with an enormous wooden bacon grinder and, with a twist of the wrist, deliver just the right amount of fresh-ground bacon atop your meal. Wouldn’t that be great? We have bacon bits at home; why not fresh bacon when we dine out?

The appeal of bacon is so ingrained in our psyche that even vegetarians cannot resist it. Dreaming of bacon but fretting about the impact on the pig? No problem: just dig into a few strips of vegetarian bacon. Even those who swear off meat cannot keep themselves from the crunchy goodness of bacon.

The lesson is simple: look away from the devastation on Wall Street and the banks. Stop thinking about who to vote for. Instead, fry up a pound of bacon, sit back, and lose yourself for just a moment in the primal goodness of bacon. And when you come back to the real world, buy stock in Hormel.


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