If you are a health-conscious almost-vegetarian but share your table with a devout carnivore, bacon is a gift from the gods.
It is the one food that will allow you to satisfy your partner\’s perennial longing for the muscle tissue of animals while assuaging your own concerns about preserving health, eating low on the food scale, living frugally, and saving the planet.
This is possible because bacon has an extremely strong taste. One tablespoon of bacon fat can make an entire vat of kale not just tolerable but irresistible to even the most determined vegephobe.
To keep my conscience at a dull roar, I buy bacon from a nearby farm where pigs live out their lives on pasture, under the same sky and breathing the same air as I. Yes, it\’s more expensive than supermarket bacon, but because a mere whisper of it goes such a long way, it is not expensive compared to other meats.
I cook a pound of bacon at a time, then drain and blot it, wrap it in paper towels and store it in a plastic bag in the fridge, where it feeds us for a long, long time. (The fat goes into the fridge as well, in case I should have a vat of kale to deal with, but mostly to flavor the dogs\’ food and give zest to their lives.)
The stuff is so strongly flavored that the slightest soupcon (why can\’t Blogger give us cedillas when we need them?) turns a too-healthy-tasting vegetable into a main dish with gravitas. That pound of bacon in my fridge gets doled out a slice at a time, chopped into tiny bits and stirred into rice, lentils, pasta, soup, chard, kale, green beans or potatoes, all of which it magically deepens and enhances with its sweet, salty, earthy, bacony flavor.
One thing I never serve bacon with is…eggs. That is simply overkill, dietary excess, and living high on the hog. Besides, the egg by itself is so delicate, so subtle, that to clobber it with a couple of slices of bacon is a kind of sin.
Otherwise, bacon is the answer to the contemporary cook\’s nutritional, economic, and ecological dilemmas. And all because it is one of the few foods (along with, maybe, heavy cream) where moderation tastes like extravagance.