I just ran a program on my Facebook to find words that I use frequently and, whaddya know, I use the word “bacon” way more than any other word! I’m borderline obsessed with bacon. I then compared it to trends across Philadelphia and then the United States only to discover that we are a nation of bacon obsessed people. Clearly marketers were aware of this phenomenon way before it dawned on me. Companies including Denny’s with their “Baconalia” event and Oscar Mayer who ran the Bacon-Barter challenge last year, have pioneered the bacon advertising bandwagon.
Our fascination with fatty strips of pig got me thinking about what bacon is like around the world. I remember when I lived in Germany I spent months trying to find bacon and would often bribe my army friends to infiltrate the American base rations to bring me back some real freaking bacon. Nevertheless, the “bacon” we know and love isn’t bad in other countries… it’s just different. Here’s some of the bacon adventures I’ve encountered.
The American Bacon-Topia
I guess I should start with America and the different types of bacon-like substances we’ve got here on the home front. Sure we’ve got bacon and it’s immitators including turkey-bacon and the like, but what about the regional delights! I grew up in South Jersey where if you didn’t order bacon at one of the thousands of diners in that lovely state, then you ordered a side of pork roll, also known in some regions as “Taylor Ham”. Pork Roll is basically a ham patty and is closely related to the Philadelphia delicacy of scrapple which is a bit more heinous. (To read more about scrapple, check out my article “Beyond the Cheesesteak: What to Eat in Philadelphia” on Viator.)
I can’t decide what I like more: American bacon or British bacon. Now I know what you’re saying, “ARRGH – Don’t tread on me” and “No taxation without representation”. I’m not trying to start a bacon revolution or anything. I’m just saying that British bacon is like American bacon but thicker and meatier. You have to eat it with a fork and knife!
Two words that may or may not go together: Spaghetti Bacon!? It’s bacon in spaghetti.
I hunted for months to find bacon only to find something called “Schinken” time and time again. Schinken is cured strips of ham sliced thin like most deli meats. For a while I tried frying it as I would bacon because, well, I thought this was German bacon. And that didn’t work out to well. But I quickly discovered after watching Germans eat, that it tastes great eaten straight from the package or placed delicately on top of a lightly buttered brotchen, sans frying.
It didn’t satisfy my bacon-cravings entirely but it was an okay substitute… at least until I found “Speck”. Speck, which directly translates to fat, was the closest thing to American bacon that I could find. Unlike American bacon which comes from the pigs belly, speck comes from the pigs shoulder, which serves for a leaner, less fatty bacon.
German is a language that has a ton of hilarious words, but one of my favorites has to be “Kummerspeck“. It translates directly to “grief bacon” and it describes the weight gained from emotional overeating.
In Montreal, Canadian bacon was just what I expected it to be — small disks of ham. But when I googled “Canadian Bacon” to find a little bit of history about this succulent breakfast side, the first thing that came up was the movie “Canadian Bacon” with John Candy. So I’m gonna leave it at that!