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Published: Tuesday, 6/18/2013

Enough with the bacon!

BY DANIEL NEMAN
BLADE FOOD EDITOR

I'm going to lose a lot of friends for this, but sometimes you have to do what's right. Speak your mind. Take a stand.

I've tried to keep my counsel. I've tried to remain quiet. I've even briefly considered living and letting others live.

But I can be silent no longer. It must be said. It must be said:

C'mon, people. It's only bacon.

I mean, really. It is as if, three or four years ago, an alien race descended in their spaceships and sent out mass-hypnosis rays to convince all of humanity that the best food in the world is bacon. That everything tastes better with bacon. That bacon is an essential part of a healthy diet.

It is the easy choice, the go-to meat. It is now possible not just to have bacon every meal of the day, but to have bacon in every dish of each meal, including dessert.

At certain restaurants around town and across the nation, it is actually hard to find dishes that don't include bacon.

I should note that I have nothing against bacon, per se, other than its detrimental effects on one's health. I eat it with some regularity myself, or at least turkey bacon (which admittedly does not have the same flavor; but then, neither does it have the same fat or calories). What I take exception to is its ubiquity.

Everybody likes ketchup, right? But you don't want to eat it every day with every dish. Our current obsession with bacon is the equivalent to me of dousing everything with ketchup — or like restaurants insisting that everything they serve you comes with ketchup on it.

It is just one flavor, but it  dominates a substantial portion of all we eat. Bacon is as prevalent now as salt and pepper, only salt and pepper serve to enhance the other flavors in a dish — they actually help you taste them. Bacon is such a strong flavor that, unless properly applied, it can overwhelm the other ingredients.

Some hipster somewhere must have decided that he liked bacon, and his little hipster friends thought that, yeah, it's hip to like bacon, just as it is hip to wear black-frame glasses and have scruffy beards. After the hipsters all glommed onto it, the wannabe hipsters were next. Seemingly overnight, bacon-worship became a nationwide fad, like  saying "Where's the beef?" or wearing Members Only jackets.

Now, comedians talk lovingly about bacon for easy laughs and applause. On the Internet, you can find postings listing "The Top Ten Rules of Bacon," including "96.4 percent of the world's problems can be solved by simply wrapping bacon around it" and "There are two types of people in this world, those who love bacon and those who will be sacrificed first during the zombie apocalypse."

Recently, I saw a woman who is otherwise respected around town hold up a piece of candied bacon and declare "I could eat this all day for the rest of my life."

All fads come to an end, eventually. But this bacon fetish is acting less like a fad and more like an epidemic. And there is an aspect of peer pressure to it, too. People think less of you if you happen to mention that you're getting a little tired of the whole national bacon obsession. They avoid you as if you have festering sores, or maybe leprosy.

Don't believe me? What kind of response do you think I'll get from this column?

I am perfectly aware that only last week, in this very space, I wrote about entrepreneur Chris Clarke who, with a couple of friends, has started a business making and selling candied bacon, chocolate-covered bacon, and other bacon concoctions. Mr. Clarke is an enthusiastic and personable young man with some perfectly delicious-sounding ideas. I wish him all the best in his endeavors.

But I ran into him again recently, and he had a confession to make: Although he still loves everything about bacon, his girlfriend, Liz, doesn't eat it anymore.

Contact Daniel Neman at: dneman@theblade.com or 419-724-6155.



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