Tuesday, August 23, 2016

What's the next bacon?

For years now we've had kale and bacon as the two riders on our diet seesaw. When we want to be virtuous and good, we eat kale; when we want to be naughty and daring, we eat bacon. The main reason for this is that we're idiots.

I'm not going to address kale today, because the subject is too painful for normal discourse. Our obsession with bacon, though, has become somewhat embarrassing. The fact that you can even pretend to be bacon is a little alarming.

"Helllooo, ladies!"
But I think the bacon thing may be fading. We've put it in everything, we've wrapped everything in it. We've lumped it in piles to make things that bacon was never meant to be. Where else is there to go? It's time to find a new naughty food. Not something that is itself a composed food, like Twinkies; it has to be something that is more of an ingredient, but may be eaten alone.

Here are some naughty food suggestions, since I am always full of naughty suggestions:

Confectioners' sugar: Like bacon, you find it in all kinds of things. Like bacon, it is daring, because it's bad for you. It can be sprinkled, like bacon, or used to cover things decadently. All it needs is some cool variations, like chipotle confectioners' sugar.

Spam: Pushes the bacon meme one step further. Still not kosher. And it has the approval of Hawaiians, who are hip. Many Asian cultures dig the Spam, too. It can be used in almost any dish that has diced, sliced, or ground meat. And hard-core hipsters can argue about the virtues of classic Spam vs. Treet, Snack, Prem, Mor, or more exotic canned meat like Vienna sausage or potted meat or chicken bologna.
Pretty out there.
Carolina reapers: Bacon promises a slow death; the Carolina reaper, the world's hottest pepper at 1,569,300 Scovil heat units (until something more psychotic comes along), will send you to the hospital much sooner. So it has that going for it.

Anchovies: As once was the case with bacon, anchovies have lingered in an almost forgotten old-folks food realm; anchovies, in fact, are in the neighborhood of clam juice and canned chicken a la king. Any smart chef could start whipping out gourmet canned anchovies, and we're on our way.

Pickles: Like bacon, very very salty, but unlike bacon, not fatty. Still, lots of gourmet potential. Pickles are a couple of university studies---showing their dangerous qualities---from being very big. And I'm sure they have dangerous qualities. Every food, when studied hard enough, proves to have dangerous qualities.

Lard: Just cut to the chase. We could fool around with shortening, but c'mon---break out the lard. Twenty years ago strong young people would faint at the sight of a bucket of Armour Lard. Now it's starting to weasel its way back, because it imparts flavor to food like nothing else, except maybe bacon grease. Lard itself is not great for eating, true, although after ear gauges I'm not sure what people won't sink to. Hipster lard may be on the horizon.

All these would make excellent substitutes for the coming collapse of bacon. But I wouldn't count bacon out just yet. There's a lot of life still in those pork bellies.

"Fry me to the moon, big boy."

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