Vegans aside, is there any doubt that bacon is one of the most beloved foods in the world? In a word, the answer is a profoundly loud “no!” Enough said. For most people, bacon improves almost any dish to which it is introduced. Gourmets around the world agree and regularly choose from a wide variety of bacons to improve a recipe. Here are just a few of their favorites:
Pancetta (Italy) – One of the more famous varieties of bacon known around the world, this salt cured and pepper-spiced pork belly is typically consumed raw in its native country but most often cooked in America and the rest of the world. Two main varieties exist: rolled (arrotolata) and flat (stesa), the first for noshing and the second for inclusion in cooked dishes. Enjoy its subtle but decidedly smoky flavor with cheese or tomato sauce.
Middle bacon (Australia) – Middle bacon is the most popular style of bacon in Australia. It includes the streaky, fatty section of the belly along with the choice piece of the pig’s loin at the far end. Usually sold in “rashers,” or thick slabs, this solid piece of pork can be grilled or broiled and is best served alongside some runny eggs and a large scoop of hash browns. For the more adventurous, try an Australian favorite — bacon and bananas.
Lop yuk (China) – China — as one would expect — has a long history of making bacon. Lop yuk is the most familiar type. It is first coated with soy sauce, brown sugar and various spices and then air-cured for seven to ten days. The result is a very dense and very hard final product that resists rot and insect infestation for a very long time. Sometimes, the curing process is curtailed and then complemented with smoking. In either case, the result is quite flavorful.
Speck (Germany) – Cured, cold-smoked and then air dried, this uniquely German meat is fantastic sliced as thinly as possible and served over pickles, horseradish and rye bread. Cubed cuts of the meat can also be incorporated into such cooked dishes as beef rouladen — an entrée made with the fried speck plus onions, pickles, and slices of flank steak, all rolled up together and browned in butter with a mustard gravy poured over it.
Canadian bacon (Canada) – Sorry about the lackluster name but most everyone knows the reputation of the Canadian people: polite and to the point. They do not disappoint when it comes to naming their uniquely textured and flavored bacon. In fact, Canadian bacon is a lot more like ham than any other of the bacons on this list because it is made from the pork loin and not the belly. Still, the brining and smoking lends it distinctly sweet flavor.
Bacon transcends culture. It is at once delicious and remarkably long lasting. Its discovery was a godsend to the earliest human societies and, without a doubt, allowed them to survive through droughts and bad harvests. These days, all people — except for those pesky vegans — still desire it. Simply put, bacon satisfies a natural albeit carnal desire. To deny this fact is to deny being human. Enjoy bacon in all its forms, there is nothing else like it in the world.