When we think of bacon, we think about the crispy strips of perfection we eat for breakfast (and lunch and dinner and snacks between meals), but bacon – believe it or not – is so much more than that. In fact, bacon is becoming a staple item in kitchens all around the world!
And, get this, different parts of the pig are used and called “bacon” in different parts of the world. Of course, American bacon will always be number one. But, let’s take an (economy class) trip around the world and look at numbers two through five.
Chinese bacon is made from pork belly (just like ours!) and air-cured with soy sauce, brown sugar, and a dry-rub of spices. Chinese bacon usually comes with the rind still attached. Because of the complex spices involved, the fat in Chinese bacon becomes saturated in flavor, making each bite more succulent than the last. And, remember, fat is good for you.
Italy isn’t just the land of pasta and pizza. Let us introduce you to pancetta, Italian bacon made of pork belly meat that’s salt-cured and spiced with black pepper, along with other spices. If you’re adventurous, this meat can be (and usually is) eaten raw.
Chicharrón, the Latin American form of bacon, can be made using a variety of cuts of pork. The pork is usually fried and shredded. The Salvadorian chicharrón is made with pork butt roast and is usually eaten alone or can be the main ingredient in pupusas (a maize tortilla stuffed with chicharrón, refried beans and cheese).
Stop. We know what you’re thinking: “LOL.” Well, Canadian bacon is still bacon… kind of. It’s actually pork loin and a bit of pork belly in the same cut. You know when you order pork chops? Well, Canadian bacon uses the same exact cut. It comes fully cooked and usually looks more like ham than normal bacon. We’d rather have real American bacon but sometimes it’s okay to indulge in some cuisine from our friends to the north.
The truth is, bacon sees no limits. It brings us endless possibilities, unbounded by international borders. So next time you gear up for a trip abroad, don’t kiss your favorite food goodbye – head to the nearest food stop because the bacon there awaits you.
Unless they’re serving turkey bacon. In which case, go home.