We need to establish right away that I by no means think bacon isn’t good. It’s obviously good, it’s delicious, it’s salted, cured pork, how could it not be delicious?? There is almost no form in which the noble pig deceives us, and bacon is near the top of the list of things it has to offer (though I admit that like 10 different pork products are tied for first place). It’s not that I have any qualms with bacon, it’s that the degree to which people are batshit insane about it as an ingredient is disproportionate to its actual goodness.
No food item would merit that amount of attention, but bacon is not even at the top of the list of pork products that would be close to deserving it. It has become its own weird cultural phenomenon, and though it’s been going on for a solid five years now (neatly tying in with Beard Culture and Whiskey Culture), somehow we haven’t reached the end of it.
I’m sure that a lot of these things are delicious, and maybe even recipes that I would seek out if I was looking for dishes to serve at a hedonism-or-heart disease-themed party, but being assaulted by them first thing in the morning without opting to actually play the video renders the whole thing nauseating. We are being aggressed with bacon from every corner, and it must stop.
Because the thing is, we as Americans seem to not grasp that while, yes, bacon is good, it is far from the only thing meriting that much attention and experimentation – it is not the only food we should be basing restaurant concepts and novelty foods and subcultures on. Hell, pancetta, lardons, and pork belly should get their own time in the spotlight before we even move past the “salted, cured pork product” vertical.
But the world is full of amazing, diverse, occasionally not-meat-based foods, and we should be able to fall in love with all of them. We should give a little bit of our attention to Brussels sprouts, and halloumi, and pears, and broccolini, and brazil nuts. We should be spreading our culinary love around, not putting all our eggs in one bacony basket (and that is actually a recipe I have seen, on Facebook, in 572 slightly different versions).
I am not sure why we must get so crazy about things as a society, why we are either eating double downs three times a day or becoming weirdly obsessed with “genius foodie chefs” who use things like “gravlax essence” and “reduction of fiddlehead fern” on their menus. It doesn’t have to be one or the other, and we also don’t have to totally ignore entire categories of food just to put near-romantic levels of attention on one particular product.
It doesn’t need to be added to everything, and even if you could, would you not want to at least briefly experiment with the other options? Every meal doesn’t need to taste like it came from some insufferable farm-to-table faux-fast food in Brooklyn.
You could argue that the one other food we’ve done this to is pumpkin, but I don’t even want to go down that road, because we treat pumpkin less as a food item and more as a weird Febreeze-like spray that we mist over our entire lives to give them that festive fall vibe. No one is out here just eating chunks of pumpkin (or, if they are, they’re probably the last people to be talking about how much they LooOooOOoOoOve pumpkin spice). Really, in terms of foods we’ve fetishized while still treating them as actual food, bacon takes the gold (and silver, and bronze, and the podium you stand on).
Everyone needs to chill the fuck out about bacon, and learn about other foods for at least a few days. With any luck, you might get really hype about bresaola and start integrating it into every recipe you make for the foreseeable future. At least that would be kind of Italian and classy.