Have No Fear, Bacon Is Here

September 2, 2014


Brace yourselves. National Bacon Day is coming in December, and there is only one true way to celebrate it.

It’s said that more than any other scent, the smell of frying bacon brings vegetarians back into the folds of the carnivorous. You can’t really blame them.

When we were teenagers, only the smell of smoked back bacon would raise us from our slumbers on a Sunday morning and force us down to the kitchen table for a huge breakfast of golden-yolked eggs, toast and, of course, thick slices of the beautiful pink, cured pork.

The term “bacon” literally refers to cured meat taken “from a pig’s back,” although now bacon can come from many different parts of the animal.

Curing in salt was a natural form of preservative and meant that the meat from slaughtered pigs could be kept well into the depths of winter, where it could be added to nutritious stews to fuel workers for their hard day’s labor.

So prized was bacon in medieval times, that in the 12th century, a priest from the town of Dunmow in the UK county of Essex awarded a side, or a “flitch,” of bacon to a couple who had impressed him with their piety and marital devotion to each other.

The tradition continued and still does to this day and is the origin of the well-known phrase “Bringing home the bacon.” In just about every nation where pork is a major source of protein, you will find some form of bacon or cured meats.

Italian pancetta is one of the most famous and is a prerequisite ingredient in one of the most famous pasta dishes of all, the carbonara. In the UK, you can still find large joints of cured pork called gammon, which is soaked overnight to remove the salt from the meat and then simmered in water and spices for a long period before being glazed with honey in the oven.

Though almost all bacon these days is eaten in slices for breakfast, it makes a great kitchen standby for any serious cook. It adds depth to soups, stews and pasta sauces.

It can be layered on top of poultry to keep it moist during cooking or wrapped around dates to make a delicious and unusual party snack. Best of all, bacon can be stuffed between two slices of toasted bread with a little mustard and steak sauce to make the most irresistible sandwich imaginable.

Whichever way of devouring this meaty goodness you prefer, make sure you are prepared on 30th December, the National Bacon Day.