The enduring obsession with a certain pork product has stripped good food of its dignity.
Unlike my colleague Lesley Bargar Suter, I am no food expert. I’m stating my general ignorance about foodie things (even calling things “foodie” probably proves I’m no club member) because it helps underscore the gravity of our problem. If I’ve noticed a food trend, and if I’ve observed that it’s gone too far, that means that food item is beyond the point of no return. It’s like moms joining Facebook—if I’m aware of it, it’s officially over. If I’m tired of it, it’s in the grave. In this case, the food item I’m referring to is bacon.
Bacon! You say. Everybody loves bacon! How can you say anything bad about bacon?
Just to be clear: I’m not saying anything bad about bacon. I’m saying bad things are happening to it, with it, and it’s time to give our borderline creepy bacon obsession a rest.
You may remember the good old days, oh, say five years ago, when bacon was a treat. You ordered a side of it at Sunday brunch with a “I really shouldn’t but…” and everybody ate a piece. Other times, maybe on a road trip or drunken night, bacon would appear as Band-Aid size strips placed atop a double-cheeseburger. Occasionally it came into your life as the warm and crispy third of a BLT. Back then, you got excited about it the way a dog does in those Beggin Strips commercials—and you know why? Because, you weren’t a total bacon freak back then, living in bacon-fetishized world like you are now. Back then, bacon was like a soufflé, a giant bag of Twizzlers, or clam chowder in a sourdough bowl. It was something you loved but didn’t necessarily eat that much, because part of loving it is not eating too much of it. It was that perfect accent piece, like a throw pillow for your plate.
I thought in 2011, Denny’s grotesque “Baconalia” would have killed the trend, that we’d realize our gluttony was bordering on those hoverchair-riding humans in WALL-E, but no, the Bacosploitation continues. It’s the “Put a Bird On It” of the food world: Got a donut? Put bacon on it! Ice cream? Bacon! Martini? Make it a double-bacon! Even bacon itself, now comes with more bacon, and a bacon sauce, with bacon cheddar cheese in what I believe is the first meta-bacon experiment. Its use is garishly crowd pleasing—a greasy gimmick that’s practically glue-gunned onto food to make it look and sound more appealing than it really is.
The fact is, bacon, while delicious, isn’t ketchup. It’s not a condiment—and the more we treat it like one and layer it over everything like it comes from a squirt bottle (Squirtable bacon! Now there’s an idea!) the less tasty it becomes and the sadder life is going to get. It’s a garnish–the only garnish I can think of that comes from an animal—and one that should go back to being used sparingly, like the treat it once was. Because the last thing in the world we want is to be tired of bacon. That is like being tired of Mardi Gras, or waterslides, or pancakes. And you know what goes really well with pancakes…
(photography by bkusler)