Bacon has seen a resurgence of popularity in recent months (not that it hasn’t been a durable headliner for those of us who enshrine smoked meats). Our local AA baseball team is hosting Bacon Days Friday and Saturday, September 19-20, a celebration of America’s favorite artery-clogger, to start with a 5K run that includes a stop to eat bacon. You can read about it in the Morning Call, but I’ll venture a guess the event won’t be mentioned in Runners World.
I’m an enthusiast of foods we might see in the aftermath of apocalyptic events (see my earlier article, Expiration – Never). The cured and smoked belly of Sus scrofa domesticus, better known as the domesticated descendent of the wild boar, has been a part of ancient societies for thousands of years. Along with flour, beans and brown sugar, it kept people alive when pioneers wagon-ho’d to the Wild West. You could say bacon is a founding food. It’s a national treasure, like the bald eagle.
It isn’t healthy you say. Well … neither was winning the west, or any story I’ve read with apocalypse and dystopia in the plot line. We’re supposed to eat veggies and fruit. People had a lot of that in the olden days. I jest, of course. Had Native Americans caught pioneers noshing prairie grass with light balsamic vinaigrette, they would have laughed themselves to an early grave.
Romance writers, listen up. An adaptation to the popular saying; A way to a man’s heart is … with bacon, has a wrinkle of truth. Though it doesn’t come with a fancy European name to suit a romance novel stud, like prosciutto, serrano, jamon, try writing a scene after a clandestine night of spooning (with every cutlery device in the drawer), where the girl sashays down the staircase to the sensuous smells of bacon, clad only in her lover’s Brooks Brothers dress shirt. He’s making breakfast for her … willingly … enticing her with its smoky manly scent, a reminder of the reason she brought him home in first place. Try wafting applewood smoked bacon under the nose of that shirtless firefighter you’ve been eyeballing. Works better than perfume … or cleavage.
Want him to leave? Just say, “let’s go downstairs, I’ll make you a salad with pine nuts and goat cheese”. Contrails will form in his wake on the way out the door.
For us end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it fans, unless you have several years supply of foods that will survive the apocalypse (Twinkies, liquor, Spam, and processed cheese come to mind), one has to think like our Paleolithic, hunter-gatherer ancestors did. It means a return to hunting and fishing to supplement a meager supply of seasonably available vegetables, fruit and nuts. Don’t forget about insects. Fish drops off the list for survivors living near a contaminated river (home of the three-eyed salmon) or too far from the seacoast (provided we still have one). Not everyone is going to have a stock of heritage seeds, and not-so-hardy fruit hybrid trees might not survive sudden climate change. So unless you’re a good hunter like Katniss Everdeen, you better start thinking about what to raise, and how to preserve it.
The porcine family has a long history of domestication, going back as early as 8000 B.C., possibly predating sheep and goats (Cambridge World History of Food). It’s a rather hardy creature, just ask anyone about our ample supply of feral pigs roaming the land. They’re prolific, will eat anything, can take care of themselves without a lot of fuss, and the fodder to meat yield translates into a higher return for energy invested than for other domesticated animals. Sheep and goats tend to be stupid creatures, need a lot of care, and when was the last time you had goat bacon? But if bacon isn’t your thing, there’s always … ham.
Bacon in the apocalypse makes sense to me. Smoking and salt curing is one of the oldest methods of preservation. As long as we still have fire and a supply of wood (have to believe we’ll have an ample supply of unused hardwood furniture in the apocalypse), we can make bacon.
In the current dystopian story I’m writing, bacon will be on the list of foods my protag will covet. So … barring lifestyle restrictions, or veganism (which might be a detriment in the apocalypse), put a little bacon in your life. You might just might survive the end of the world.