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