Bacon No. 1: First Taste
As I sit down to describe this bacon to you, "Squeeze" is on the headphones, and I cannot adequately convey the serious qualities of this food to that happy pop stuff. Bless Squeeze for all they have done, CBEs for the lot of them, but Father's Country Hams' cinnamon-rubbed hickory-smoked dry-cured bacon seems to demand something a little less "Anthony Michael Hall combing his hair in front of a Vector W-2 poster," and a little more "[the abject silence of Southern patriarchal scorn]."
I searched the Internet for an audio clip of Hank Williams dying in the back seat of a chartered Cadillac, but the best I can seem to do is a ten minute YouTube video of Bono singing to Santa Claus, so here it goes. I don't have all night.
Father's bacon is smoked. You have had "smoked" meat before, but this is not that. Eating this meat is like eating camping. Merely touch its plastic wrap and your skin holds the smoke smell for hours. Put the cooked morsel in your mouth and you are in a cheap sleeping bag again — drunk, slightly confused, and thirsty. Is someone playing the guitar? Did that ranger score with Marlene? Damn. Too bad it wasn't me — what did I do wrong? Wow. I'm camping [falls asleep with mini-Maglite suspended in sewn-in tent baggie inches from head].
Here now, while Bono wishes Santa Claus a Merry Christmas for the eighth time, I think back to how the pork looked when I first cut the package open. The meat had the surface quality of a prosciutto, that particular sheen and dryness. It had the deep, rich red of raw duck breast. The balance of meat to fat was generous. I flipped the first test strip a few times in a low pan until it had rendered and gone slightly crispy. The cinnamon flavor was negligible in this application — it was all thick, pure hickory smoke on pork, and I felt like I'd never really had bacon before. The watery, wrinkly strips you get at the supermarket now just seem like pictures of bacon, and cheap pictures taken with a cell phone, at that. Father's bacon is a sturdy pair of Wellingtons to their photocopy of Capezio toe shoes. Father's bacon is produced in slow, stern, abject paternal silence, to their factory line where Squeeze plays over cheap loudspeakers at a federally-regulated volume and the immigrant packers have no idea why. Father's bacon is excellent.
Next time: Cooking with Father's.
(Oh, I ought to mention where you can go to find the Bacon of the Month Club: GratefulPalate.com. Tell them I sent you, if possible. Maybe they'll give me another free plastic snout.)