Bacon has become ubiquitous. But has it caused us to stumble? Or is it our food salvation?
Sizzling Toward Gomorrah
In a society loving on local produce, sucking up to sustainable farming and orgasming on organics, the elevation of bacon to Food of the Millennium seems oddly out of place. It’s hard to avoid products made of or inspired by bacon these days, from bacon-flavored cupcakes at my local shop to – heavens to hop flowers – bacon beer at the brewery. Yes, you can finally enjoy HDL cholesterol in a pint glass apart from a drinking contest with Kirstie Alley.
And my good friend Jeremiah, named after the prophet who warned the Jews not to worship foreign gods, wants to clog your soul with the praises of Baal-con.
What harm can Lucifer’s love handles do, you may ask? Sure, eating bacon every morning has helped a svelte friend of mine reach a healthy body weight, and I cook vegetables in bacon fat every six hours or so. (Tell Michelle that’s how you get kids to eat the fertilized-by-Barack’s-bowels brussels sprouts from the White House garden.) Even the Jews and vegans are on board with Bacon Salt.
But chew on this: Bacon and its non-financial derivatives have become the cultural equivalent of embryonic stem cells, the Great Off-White Hope for Hipness. Sharing your love of bacon shows you are not the stick-up-the-pork-butt liberal you appear to be, a cultural shorthand for thumbing your nose at political correctness. Jumping on the bacon bandwagon is like converting to Judaism purely for the jokes – it offends me as a baconnoisseur. The Morning Star’s mutton chops, in other words, have been coopted as the peace child of America’s 50-year culture war. But the baconverts are really pushing a gospel of conquest.
As the Bacon Salt guys say, “Everything should taste like bacon.” They and their ilk want to harness the inherent power of bacon and trivialize it by slapping the flavor and maybe a few lipids on a range of disparate foods, scents and even furniture.
The baconquistadores would infect and kill off the native flavors of every other food to further their unholy mission. Future generations would know bacon only as a spirit infusing all, obliterating its unique and set-apart status. Like that “South Park” episode where they say “sh–” 162 times, Baconism ultimately robs bacon of its significance.
What good is it for bacon to gain the whole world, yet forfeit its soul?
The Gospel of Bacon
Eating bacon is like watching a Mormon drink: it never gets old. Unless you’re Greg, the Baconquisitor responsible for the torture, or at least the sanctioning of torture, of bacon-loving heretics whose only crime against the Church of Greg is simply liking what bacon does for their taste buds. If only Greg were able to read the Dead Sea Salt Scrolls, he’d find that the Love of Bacon is near the Love of Neighbor and the Love of God.
Bacon is the anti-health food, the meme that feeds itself. Everyone wants to say they eat well, but the in-your-face health craze makes us fear our neighbor who may be plotting ways to convert us to their veganity. Sure, maybe it’s become overly sentimentalized, or elevated by the foodie-geek to near divine levels, but the Bacon-alia is a sign we’ve become unchained from the stiff requirements that used to reign in food-dom.
No longer confined to Martha Stewart rigors of neatness, bacon has become the Pauline equivalent of all things to all people. It serves as a diplomat between the liberal need for organic everything and conservative country-fried lard-based diets. It is the populist’s additive, a crowd-pleasing favorite because its taste is a nostalgia, recalling better times. It’s a finger in the face of government-mandated health iniatives.
It is also the Jesus meat, the slice that makes health nuts stumble and the pork that makes them fall, but it’s also the food that takes away the sins of the culinary world.
As in every religious movement, the fringe exists, and bacon’s surge has its extremists; the Dave & Justins of the world certain push a bacon-heavy agenda, and like politicians of all stripes, The Salt Guys like their pork with everything. Much like the mainstream media does to promote fear, Greg has conflated the “everything should taste like bacon” philosopy of these ideologues with mainstream bacon-ology–a dangerous assumption to make. Not everyone has tasted the bacon-flavored Kool-Aid. Celebrity chef Tim Love has spoken out against the baconization of our food culture, but even he can’t deny the allure. And despite bacon’s newfound mainstream popularity, there is a coming war. Obama’s administration along with the FDA and the Institute of Medicine is nanny-stating our salt intake from packaged foods and meals served in restaurants. The plan is to “slowly ratchet down the sodium level” so you won’t notice the change. But you can’t take the salt out of bacon any more than you can take the O out of water. Accepting this would be an abdication of the Great BaCommision; to go forth and make baconphiles of all nations.
So now hear the true gospel of bacon: 1Bacon isn’t complicated. It isn’t loud, except when it’s being cooked; bacon doesn’t boast, it is not proud; it is a food, but not self-heating. 2Bacon is not easily over-flavored, it keeps no record of how often you eat it for dinner with eggs. Bacon does not delight in the sizzle but rejoices with the taste. 3It always projects (amazing smells), always crusts (with a delicious fatty edge), is sometimes smoked, and always perseveres (bacon scent lingers for hour after delicious hour).
4Bacon never fails. Where there are partridges they will cease; where there is squab and dove’s tongue, they will be still-broiled; where there is lamb belly and goat Gruyère, it will pass away from the kitchen. 5And now these three remain: chocolate, cheese, and bacon. But the greatest of these is bacon.