People, the bacon abuse must stop.
Here on the Fourth of July, I’m declaring independence from bacon overuse.
I’m not complaining about the actual cooking of bacon. It’s true that I’m not a fan of microwave-cooked bacon. It reduces bacon’s crispness and pan-fried pork goodness to the chewy consistency of fat-coated cardboard. It also reduces bacon itself to an instant food, something that takes no effort to achieve.
Still, how you cook your bacon is between you and your breakfast maker. One person’s extra-crispy is another person’s burned. Bacon aficionados should look on with pity, not the withering dismissal of public humiliation.
No, my bacon issue isn’t with cooking, or even the proliferation of gimmicks like bacon-flavored toothpicks and bacon-patterned bandages.
My complaint is with the notion of bacon as dessert.
Like most desecrations, it seemed harmless at first. Oven-baked bacon with a light sprinkling of brown sugar is a holiday morning treat. Sugared bacon set out in little plates at chi-chi cocktail parties has that thrill of the illicit that goes so well with bourbon.
Then someone dunked a strip of bacon in chocolate and I began to feel the need to look away.
Sure, it sounded like a good idea at first. Smoke, fat and chocolate – what’s not to love?
After the first few experiences, I realized that chocolate-covered bacon was just another version of the chocolate-covered strawberry.
They look gorgeous, all fat and colorful. But whenever I try one, I’m disappointed. The strawberries are the giant ones, grown for looks, not flavor. The chocolate has fat added so it will make a better coating, spoiling the crisp snap of good chocolate.
I’d rather have a chunk of really good chocolate and ripe raspberries on the side.
Then the sweet bacon craze really started. Bacon toffee, bacon crème brulee. Bacon on cupcakes, bacon sprinkled over the icing on caramel cake.
At every turn, it seemed like someone was putting pork on my dessert fork. And too often, both dessert and bacon suffered. Bacon toffee is like candy-covered sawdust. Bacon cake toppings are too chewy to contrast well with the cake.
I ran my disappointment by restaurant reviewer Helen Schwab and got scoffed at. Helen feels that bacon is so wonderful, it doesn’t matter what you do, it’s still bacon.
But then the Burger King bacon sundae showed up a few weeks ago. We shared a few bites, and we agreed: Awful.
Hammy bacon, missing the crunch and fatty joy of bacon, soaked in overly soft ice cream. It wasn’t even salty enough to have that nice salty/sweet thing to recommend it.
Yes, I’m offended by the cynicism and the notion that you can put bacon on anything and people will buy it. But I also realized there isn’t any way this could be done that I would like.
Really good ice cream topped with really good bacon would still suffer a little. The bacon would lose what makes it great, and it wouldn’t raise the ice cream to another level.
So I’m standing up and letting myself be counted, even if I’m a force of one: No more bacon in my desserts.
It’s bacon. It deserves better.
Good bacon is a terrible thing to waste.