December 30th is National Bacon Day. I assume it is a day to glorify and celebrate the many epicurean triumphs that bacon has brought to our society. Well, bah humbug. I for one, shall not be celebrating such a day.
Bacon itself is not at all unpalatable. In fact, with eggs and toast in the morning, it is a perfectly delicious way to begin the day. Crispy or chewy, I actually enjoy the taste. Even more so if it is bacon from the butcher’s counter, rather than the prepackaged, wet, and brine-injected bologna that is trying to pass as bacon (which, even then, is still pretty good). Even Canadian Bacon has its place at my table. Bacon fat also remains an interesting and delicious medium for heat transfer. Why then, given all this praise, that I decline to celebrate on bacon day? Because as a food it is vastly overrated.
I first stumbled upon bacon as a non-savory food around 2012. Someone had decided to put it on a donut. I was aghast. It was even candied. I shuddered. Ever since, I have noticed the increasing trend to put bacon on just about anything under the sun. I cried.
To be fair, we have been using bacon as a non-breakfast, non-solitary food for quite a while. Putting it on salads (see bacon bits or, if you are fancier, lardons), baked potatoes, burgers, and wrapping it around vegetables and other foods. But I feel the need to take a stand. There are very few dishes bacon actually belongs with. The BLT is legendary and absolutely needs the B for bacon. Approved. Baked potatoes, arguably one of the worst potato progeny, needs some fat and flavor. Approved, albeit, with some reservation. But outside of that, why are you really adding bacon to something?
Good bacon has a lot of flavor. A lot. So much, that it absolutely masks the flavors of the rest of the dish. So why do we wrap it around scallops? Or add it to burgers? Or, and this kills me inside, why wrap it around steak? It does not belong. If you’re going to wrap bacon around food, be honest with yourself and ask if you truly liked the food to begin with and, if so, why did you think adding bacon enhanced the flavor? As for bacon donuts, bacon ice cream, and bacon popsicles – all novelties at best.
But perhaps I protest too much. Your culinary choices are your own. Celebrate the bacon. Celebrate that it comes from using all of the animal. Celebrate that it was a method to preserve meat. I won’t judge.