The London Review of Breakfasts

"Hope is a good breakfast, but it is a bad supper." (Francis Bacon)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Op-Egg: National bacon week - time to pick sides

by Blake Pudding
I have commented in previous posts on unnecessary Americanisms creeping onto the British breakfast menu: English muffins and ‘French Toast’ for example. I have, however, noticed the opposite trend: lumpen English tastes inveigling their way into American-style breakfasts. Twice recently I have ordered that diner stalwart pancakes and bacon, and been give something closer to a piece of boiled gammon than the crispy bacon that I was expecting. It did not go well with the pancakes (though part of me thinks the whole idea of having bacon with something sweet is so inherently stupid that perhaps the flaccid bacon was actually a joke by the chef.)

As I am sure readers are aware, it is national bacon week. This is meant to be a time for celebrating the pig but I can’t help wondering how easily it could descend into factionalism or even civil war. On one hand there will be the no-nonsense Roundheads of the back bacon army and opposing them the Cavaliers of the porcine world, the smoked streaky eaters. At stake is what do you think the purpose of your bacon to be. The Roundheads say that it should be all about piggy meat whereas the Cavaliers demand crisply rendered fat even if it strays dangerously close to Catholic pancetta.

I make no bones about finding back bacon an aberration against breakfasts. If that makes me a Popish traitor in the eyes of most Englishman then so be it. I know that the true bacon is the streaky and the back an usurper who crept in probably around the time of Cromwell (I might have to do a bit more research on this.) Our American cousins’ crispy bacon culture is actually how things used to be over here. Of course they have taken it a little too far and made theirs positively brittle. And what is Canadian bacon (essentially ham) if not an attempt to distance themselves from their powerful neighbours to the South?

So this national bacon week, decide where you stand. Back or streaky? Are you with me or against me?


Blogger Perdita said...

Dried - to - a - crisp bacon is a vile Americanism. Bacon should be crispy at the edge and flexible at the centre: the main problem is when it isn't thickly sliced enough and puffed out with brine (ie cheap), it goes from flabby to dry in seconds.

3:11 PM, March 23, 2011  
Anonymous Oaty said...

I actually prefer British bacon. The American kind is just like a salt stick.
On a related note, this morning in Islington I overheard one builder earnestly say to another, 'You know what I have eaten? I have eaten raw bacon'. At the time, I was perplexed, but now I know that he was celebrating National Bacon Week.

3:14 PM, March 23, 2011  
Blogger The Five Minute Expert said...

This sparked quite a debate in our office with us being quite equally split between a love of back and streaky. However, we then all had preferences when it came to how we were eating a bacon. General consensus was, if having a sandwich then back was the best choice. However, if a fried breakfast or with pancakes, then streaky was much more suitable. The one thing we did all agree on was that it had to be British!

5:14 PM, March 23, 2011  
Blogger tig said...

It HAS to be streaky, crispy at the edges and flexible in the middle, so as to scoop up the contents of one's frieg egg

5:22 PM, March 23, 2011  
Blogger tig said...

that should have said fried egg

5:22 PM, March 23, 2011  
Anonymous Seb said...

tig - surely back bacon is more flexible in the middle than streaky?

I love all bacon and I don't think it needs to be a 'cat or a dog person' type decision.

6:55 PM, March 23, 2011  
Blogger Tim Footman said...

Terribly overrated stuff. Kippers, they're the real deal. Especially because Johnny Yankee doesn't understand them.

11:57 PM, March 23, 2011  
Anonymous Trailzilla said...

Love, love, love your blog and your writing. So glad I stumbled across you. I love both kinds of bacon equally, but feel that to compare is like comparing links sausage with sliced (Lorne). But pancakes should ONLY come with crispy streaky. Period!

6:08 AM, March 24, 2011  
Anonymous Forks said...

Streaky or back? Mmm. Streaky. Back is what you always get in a canteen. It's thick, sits in milky water and tastes like salty tree bark.

10:55 AM, March 24, 2011  
Anonymous E.T. said...

A most radical and delicious solution would be to have a streaky-n'-back combo on your breakfast plate: the streaky shards for poking into egg; the swathe of back to handle albumen and bean passengers, placed on piece of toast.

If a cafe offered this, they'd definitely win an award.

11:35 AM, March 30, 2011  
Anonymous crisy enough said...

You like the most revolting style of bacon. Dont mention americans. I vomit 'pon your head.

2:27 PM, September 27, 2011  
Anonymous crisy enough said...

and that was to perdita

2:28 PM, September 27, 2011  
Anonymous canvas art print said...

British bacon is good, it's too full of water though. Smokey FTW!!

12:56 PM, August 20, 2012  

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