And now on to a lighter subject: bacon. Ha ha. I'm about to tell you something extremely controversial and exciting.
I don't like bacon.
Really. It's true. It's not that I hate it or anything. I have been known on occasion to order it and have a little at a diner, but I think it's pretty gross. I don't understand the appeal of eating a fried piece of fat that has a tiny bit of salty meat attached to it. Gross.
I've tried to understand it. I know people that dream of bacon. I've been to weddings and parties where people raved about the scallops wrapped in bacon and I just really like scallops by themselves. On the whole I think the meats of the pig variety are just too salty for me and have a weird color.
We didn't eat it at home of course. My mom wasn't ever around people who cooked pig and she never learned how to cook pig so I never learned what it was. The first time I ever saw a ham was at my Grandfather's birthday party. I was 11 years old. There was this gigantic pink thing on the table and I leaned over to my mom and asked in a frightened whisper: "What is that?"
"It's a ham honey. You don't have to eat it."
"Are we supposed to eat it?"
"Well it looks like that is what they're serving. You don't have to eat it. It comes in a can."
"It comes in a can? Are you going to eat it??"
"No! Shhh. Don't eat it if you don't want to."
"Why is it so pink? It looks like My Little Pony."
(My Little Pony happened to be pink with a rainbow tail. Pink was my favorite color at the time but I had never eaten anything that color, with the exception of strawberry ice cream of course.)
"I don't know. You can try it if you want to, but you don't have to."
I didn't want to try it. Any pig related product seemed like it was something I should be afraid of. I never tried ham until my twenties and I really really didn't like it. I understand that there are all sorts of cuts of pig that taste different and granted I even gave pork chops a try recently, but I don't think I will ever grow to love the pig product.
I have no idea when the first time I tried bacon was. My mom made us turkey bacon and so I always thought that was what it was. Whenever I see bacon I just can't get over the grease and the fat. I don't understand why that makes anything better and I especially don't understand why it goes on top of burgers sometimes. I don't want triple bypass surgery, do you?
The bacon problem came into play recently because I wanted to try making a Coq au Vin. It was something I've only had twice but remember it to be a beautiful savory chicken dish. Both times I had it without bacon but I don't know how they made it. Every recipe I looked up called for salt pork, slab bacon, lardon, or pancetta. What the hell? How was I going to do this?
After doing a little reading I discovered that pancetta might work for me better than the other options. It's supposed to have a lighter flavor and is often sliced very thin at a deli. The thinness appealed to me because I figured it would blend better than chunks of bacon. So I went to a European Deli near me and amazingly they were out. They were getting more that week but I was ready to start that day. I asked the guy what he thought I should use instead and he said bacon. I told him that I don't like bacon and got the inevitable shock response. Wow big surprise people. Not everyone likes bacon. Just like how not everyone celebrates Christmas. I know, shocking. Happy Holidays to you.
Anyway, I asked him if he thought turkey bacon would work and he seemed to think it was a great idea. I was super excited because I wasn't even going to go there but then I received confirmation that it was going to work.
Not so much.
The turkey bacon was a terrible crunchy texture in a smooth saucy dish and the flavor overwhelmed everything else. So much for not using the pig.
I followed a combination of recipes from The Food Network and I think I used the best of both worlds. Still it didn't work for me and I'm not so sure real bacon would have helped that much. No point in giving you the recipe. It was lousy. If you know of a good Coq au Vin recipe without too much pork flavor, I would be happy to try it. Damn swine.