Bacon becoming increasingly omnipresent in American culture
By Jim Schuh
“You want bacon with that?”
Bacon has been around for a long time, but in my experience, it’s never been as popular as it is today. You can find it paired with just about anything.
I like bacon and eat it fairly regularly, even though I know it’s probably not all that good for you. The bacon we buy in the supermarket is full of salt and preservatives – to say nothing of the product itself – which is fat. But it tastes really good.
The German word for bacon tells the story: It’s “Speck,” and it translates as “fat.”
Over the years, I’ve heard agricultural reports on the radio quoting the price of pork bellies. I never put two and two together to figure out why the price of pork bellies was of interest to anyone. Then I found out that most bacon comes from pork bellies.
As a youngster, I loved crispy bacon and still order it that way. I found that dunking a slice of bacon into runny egg yolks produced – for me – a delicious treat. I joked that when I became king, we’d all be eating crunchy bacon slathered with egg yolks.
I have a few recollections of bacon that stand out. One goes back to my youth when our family visited my great uncle and aunt at their summer cabin on Pickerel Lake near Antigo. My great aunt – not particularly well-known for preparing healthy food – cooked bacon on the morning we were leaving. The problem is she didn’t cook the bacon – she just warmed it up. I remember the ride back to Milwaukee, where I “tasted” Aunt Tress’ raw bacon all the way home.
(I said Aunt Tress didn’t worry about “healthy” meals – she also cooked greasy pork with huge dumplings – my grandad called them “pool balls” that got into your stomach and stayed there. Still, she lived well into her 80s, and her husband, Uncle John, died at 94.)
Back in the 1980s, Martha and I were in Switzerland and decided to have dinner in the small hotel’s dining room. I remember two things about that experience – a family of four, including two young kids, all drank beer at a nearby table – not something you’d see here. The father ordered a plate of cold cuts – certainly not a “healthy” choice. I saw it and it looked good, so I ordered one, too.
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