Be prepared to say goodbye!
A rather hysterical report issued early last week on the part of a European agricultural agency suggested that pig populations were declining in Europe and the U.S. due to shortages of corn and soybeans — important feed for porkers — as a result of prolonged drought. As you might expect, some people went crazy, fantasizing that there would be bacon shortages, resulting in hasty cancellations of bacon events for the coming year, etc.
Well, the whole thing turned out to be something of a hoax, or at least a case of mass hysteria driven by rampant bacon lust. As NBC reasoned, according to the blog Hot Air, the result was much more likely to be a rise in bacon prices, which would cause more of the hog supply to be diverted into the smoky meat strips with which many are obsessed. Besides, the conclusion was extrapolated from European data and not backed up by further research.
But it got us to thinking at Fork in the Road and galvanized us into adopting a fail-safe strategy if ever bacon does become unavailable. Following are nine products that might be substituted, in reverse order of satisfactoriness.
9. Bacon-Flavored Rawhide Rolls — Like your bacon crisp? And well-browned with a nice greasy sheen? Well, these natural-leather treats might be just what you’re looking for, with the chewing time measured in hours rather than seconds. And you and your favorite canine can lie down together on the living room rug in front of the TV, turn on Dog the Bounty Hunter, and enjoy a good chew.
8. Smart Bacon — Is this the best they could do in making this combination of TVP and gluten look like bacon? It’s a wan attempt, to be sure, but at least you don’t have to worry that the pig was well cared for and slaughtered humanely. What Lightlife has slaughtered instead, I’m afraid, is the idea of bacon.
7. Turkey Bacon — Many Muslim-owned bodegas use this in BLTs with perfect success, and even though it doesn’t look appetizing in the package, it will do in a pinch. And hey, maybe someone will start making artisanal turkey bacon!
6. Bacon Beans — Lots of folks like their bacon to have some sweet notes, either in the cure, in a glaze, or simply by eating jam on their breakfast toast and taking alternate bites. Well, these bacon-flavored jelly beans are for you.
5. Pancetta — This cured but un-smoked form of bacon demanded by countless pasta-sauce recipes will doubtlessly remain available, because only foodies know what it is. In fact, if you get a chance to fry up some slices, you might find it more satisfying than regular morning bacon. Or maybe not.
4. Bac’N Pieces — Note the spelling of “bacon,” looking like a contraction, but really betokening a product that tastes like bacon, but contains no bacon. When the bacon supply runs out, you might have to make do with some of this stuff on your salad or whipped into an omelet, French-style.
3. Lardo — When Mario Batali threw a strip of cured pork fat on a pizza at Otto a decade ago, it was to universal approbation. Really, the best part of bacon is the fat, and eating lardo is like eating bacon fat, only more delicious — cooked or raw.
2. Lamb Bacon — Hey, you can make bacon from almost any animal with a belly, so why not lamb? Sure, the taste is a bit skankier and the bacon a little more lean, but who can tell the diff if you use it in a BLT?
1. Spam With Bacon — You’re going to have to get your bacon fix somehow, even when the bacon shelves in the supermarket are entirely empty sometime next year. Turn to your good old friend Spam, which comes in a can and thus can survive the vicissitudes of perishable foods. And because Hormel makes both Spam and bacon, we’ll guarantee that the company will keep a little stash for themselves just to flavor their potted meat.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 1, 2012