Bring home the bacon — and savor it

2006-12-27T00:00:00Z Bring home the bacon — and savor itBy Ellen Sweets The Denver Post Arizona Daily Star
December 27, 2006 12:00 am  • 

There is not now and never will be a meaningful salami, lettuce and tomato sandwich.

It must be bacon, lettuce and tomato.

Sure, it's possible to tart up vegetables with smoked turkey wings or ham hocks, but green beans, peas and squash are stellar when simmered with the real deal: bacon.

And while BOMC might mean Book of the Month Club to many, to pork devotees, it means Bacon of the Month Club, and such clubs truly exist.

Zingerman's, the famed Michigan deli in Ann Arbor, seasonally offers a monthly air-freight delivery of six bacons in a program subtitled When Pigs Fly, available online from zingermans.com.

In addition to a year's worth of bacon, members of the Grateful Palate's BOMC (gratefulpalate.com) receive a bacon-themed comic strip, a pig nose, ballpoint pen, rubber toy and T-shirt.

Bacon-and-egg bandages are available to protect boo-boos, not to mention bacon air fresheners and bacon wrapping paper, all from mcphee.com.

Bacon variations abound as well: baked, broiled, microwaved or pan-fried; pepper-cured or hickory smoked; slab or sliced.

Once the bacon's in the house, you might wonder where the phrase "bring home the bacon" originated. According to foodreference.com, there are at least three possibilities. One says it might have come from the 12th-century English custom of giving a young couple bacon if they were still happily wed after a year of marriage. Another suggests it originated with greased pig competitions at fairs, the winner "bringing home the bacon" by capturing the pig.

The third possibility dates to the 16th century. European peasants could afford pork only occasionally, so it made them feel quite special. They would hang the bacon to show off. In a gesture of hospitality, the host would cut off a bit to share with guests, then sit around and "chew the fat."

Now comes a cookbook for bacon lovers: "Seduced by Bacon: Recipes and Lore About America's Favorite Indulgence," by Joanna Pruess (The Lyons Press, $24.95).

Well-greased with recipes from the sublime — mussels steamed with bacon and beer — to the ridiculous — bacon ice cream — this labor of love offers 178 recipes for bonding with the pig.

The seduction is interspersed with odes and essays from names as well-known and diverse as Mark Twain and Fran Leibowitz.

What better way to launch the new year, then, than with breakfast tapas? Bite-size, quichelike bocaditos (finger sandwiches) are phyllo cups filled with cheese, bacon, tart cherries and almonds.

Or, an old-fashioned shepherd's pie laced with real bacon bits works just fine.

For those addicted to eggs and bacon, serve a bacon-laced zucchini gratin topped with a light tomato coulis. The gratin can be made in advance, baked and served warm or at room temperature.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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