Welcome EDSBS shoppers. Please, make yourselves at home, and when you're done, explore the rest of The Filthy South, the test kitchen, the various regional stuff under "Incursions and Excursions," at right or savor some beef, or more diffuse grumbling.
It's hard to write about bacon. Everybody loves bacon, but through some whim of the blogosphere its popularity has itself become popular. Perversely, many assume there is something droll about liking bacon; equally perversely, many have put bacon where it does not belong. The state of bacon-liking in 2010 is like the state of Elvis-liking circa the fat-Elvis stamp thin-Elvis stamp controversy -- it's hard to express a sincere appreciation for "Kentucky Rain" when your roommate in the work shirt with someone else's name on the pocket (get it?) thinks it's hilarious to say "thankyouverymuch."
We speak not of ordinary bacon, however. Thanks to a nice lady we'll call Tia Maria,* The cinetrix and the Cod recently came into a healthy quantity of Alan Benton's smoked country bacon. He makes it in Madisonville, Tennessee, and it's the best thing to come out of the Smoky Mountains since Sherry McAdams. True enough, David Chang did drop a multi-page mash note to Mr. Benton into his Momofuku book, but there are more compelling reasons to get yourself some of this. Food and wine writers like to talk of "terroir," or how a a food reflects local character. Well, eating this bacon is like being adopted by Dolly Parton. It tastes the way your flannel shirt would smell after you and Dolly sat around a campfire and she sang old Hank Williams songs and played guitar. It has a smoky flavor that will immediately ruin you for all other bacon, but not in an oppressive head-in-a-woodstove way. It tastes like the pig it came from, and it's the only bacon I'd consider a legit swap for home-made guanciale when making buccatini alla amatriciana. Neither too thick nor too thin, and I'd rather cook with the grease from this bacon than any actual bacon I can think of.
Want you some? Get you some. Some music while you click or call:
*Because her name is Mary, and she is my aunt.