Bacon, Bacon, BACON

IF you are a member of PETA, please do not read on, unless of course you are a member of the other PETA.  Confused? No, it’s really simple.  This post is for those who belong to People Eating Tasty Animals and not those who belong to PETA.  Oh, and the emphasis is on Tasty.

As some of you may already be aware, I have lived on both sides of that small piece of water called the Atlantic and I am not going say which side I prefer, with one exception: I miss bacon from the UK.  The thick, sizzling kind cut from the loin and I am not talking about the “cured belly of a swine carcass” (as the US Department of Agriculture’s Policy Book lists it), cut so thin that you can put it over your eyes and still be able to see well enough to thread a needle.  Nor am I talking about Canadian Bacon, which again the USDA’s Policy book defines as “Product … made from a trimmed boneless pork loin. The dorsal and ventral side on each end shall not be more than 1.0 inch different in Length …. The tenderloin and the flesh overlying the blade bone are excluded. The surface fat (and false lean when necessary) shall be trimmed to 0.3 inches thick at any point.”

No.  I am talking about the thick, juicy back bacon that stares back from the pan and clogs your arteries just thinking about it.  The same kind that researchers at Newcastle University says cures a hangover, the kind that another set of researchers at Leeds University says you need to make the perfect bacon sandwich ( if you are interested, the formula is N = C + {fb(cm) · fb(tc)} + fb(Ts) + fc · ta.) (don’t ask me to interpret that, I was in the Principals office when we did math because Heather was chasing Jason Dean, but that is another story)

I’m talking about the type of bacon that goes into the sandwiches served at “Bob’s Big Bite” on the St John’s Ring Road in Stourbridge, that according to the UK’s Automobile Association is the Best in Britain.  The kind of bacon you put in a piece of Wonder bread (Wonder loaf in the UK), say to hell with examining the cholesterol, carbohydrates or calories and just sit and eat for the sheer pleasure of tasting the meat and the rasher (that’s a slice) isn’t as thin and crisp as a potato chip.  The kind of bacon that every self-respecting greasy spoon café serves by the crate load every day.  The same kind of bacon that every piglet wants to grow up to be.  

Last month a chain of restaurants were running a promotion on Bacon and their commercials actually made me drive to the nearest one and order from their ‘baconalia’ menu, with a side serving of bacon for good measure.  I was as disappointed as the vegetarian who ordered rocky mountain oysters in a restaurant hoping for shellfish.  My side serving was four 2 inch by half inch strips, one hundredth of an inch thick.  Yes I know I was stupid to think that in a land where the Department of Agriculture actually states that bacon must lose 60% of its volume during cooking that I was in for a treat, but ……  I would have more fun ordering a packet of Walkers Smoky Bacon Crisps (that’s potato chips guys) and more than likely they would have tasted more like bacon than the apology for the – things – served on my plate.

Various US states can do meat well  – For example, California has a tritip, a cow’s best kept secret that is a tender and tasty steak cut from the bottom sirloin.  I have been lucky enough to have a steak at the Big Texan Steak Ranch in Amarillo, Texas, probably the best I have ever had, and an In and Out burger animal style has got to be right up there on the scale. (Although, the Steak and Shake burger I had in Greenwood, Indiana, was pretty special….)  We can do some great things with meat in over in the US,  we can fly a man to the moon and, when we put our minds to it, even catch a terrorist living  a couple of hundred yards from a military base in Pakistan.  We can build most of the world’s airplanes, develop most of the world’s software and computers and produce some of the biggest movies of all time.  Yet we cannot produce bacon. 

A quick search on the interwebs will reveal all the recipes you need, any farmer’s grandmother will show you how it’s done.  But as I write this with some Pavlovian reflex to the thought of that juicy, fried rasher, with it’s salty aroma, the sizzling in the pan, the craving just gets worse.  If I was some rich rock-star, I would be sending my personal jet to the UK to fly me back some bacon – although I would have to bribe the customs officer as you are not allowed to bring meat into the country.  But I not a rock-star and I cannot just jet off to the UK for a bacon butty (Sandwich).  So it’s no good.  I’m going to have to persuade the Danish Bacon Company or the UK’s Defra agency that there is a vast untapped market just ready for the picking.

In the interim, perhaps the best bacon I can find in the States just happens to come on a burger in Chilli’s Restaurants.  Now as they have over a 1,400 premises across 50 states, perhaps I can persuade them to start selling it.  Failing that, I will have to start smuggling packets of bacon through customs just to get a fix…………  



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