Only bacon is bacon

By Kat Kinsman
Updated February 13, 2018
EC: Rage Against the Fake Bacon Invasion
Credit: Photo by Bottaci via Getty Images

Here is a list of things that are bacon: cured pork from the side or belly of a pig, usually smoked. Here is a list of things that are not bacon: everything else in the world. Nevertheless, people persist in calling foodstuffs that are not C.P.F.T.S.O.B.O.A.P.U.S. "bacon." Down that road lies nothing but disappointment and lies and funnily enough, those are the only two things that don't taste great with bacon. Don't fib to people about serving them bacon when you're not actually going to do that, and most importantly, don't fib to yourself. You deserve better, and bacon deserves to not have its good and delicious name sullied.

Carrot "bacon" nearly undid me recently. It popped up in a feed and I made the mistake of clicking on it and I suppose I have only myself to blame, but instead I'm going to blame carrots for trying to front like that. Mushroom "bacon,"tempeh "bacon," and coconut "bacon," too. For all I know these are marvelous foods, but I can't help but think they're trying to coattail on bacon's accomplishments in the manner of a lesser Baldwin. I see what you're trying to do there, zucchini "bacon" and I think poorly of you for it.

Not of vegetarians and vegans, of course. You don't need to justify yourself and your foodways to me or to anyone, but if this isn't too invasive, might I ask you a question? Don't you deserve better than parenthetical food? The moment you wrap the punctuation around "bacon," you're already admitting that another foodstuff exists that is the paradigm of the form. It's worthy of imitation. The thing you're eating is borrowing credibility, but never quite enough. It all ends in mild dysthymia.

I say this as a human who for seven years of her life consumed no meat or fish and took pains to avoid things like gelatin and rennet. I went all-in on replacement "meats" like mock duck, bean and texturized vegetable protein burgers of every sort, and of course, faux bacon. Each time, I was disappointed. Had the name of the dish not invoked the original form, I likely would have been satisfied.

"Here's a delightful glazed seitan stew. Please enjoy this savory vegetable patty. Oh hey, these baked strips of carrot/chunks of mushroom/shards of coconut taste pretty incredible with a marinade of coconut aminos and liquid smoke. Wanna try?"

"Yes, please, and thank you, kind lover of animals and steward of the environment. Mmmmm, this is entirely delicious on its own merits."

But nah. I'm chewing the "bacon" and dreaming of fatty rashers and that's just not fair to the carrot or to me. (The pig is probably fine with it.) Perhaps this is all just hunky-dory for someone who's never had the real stuff, but in that case, why invoke bacon in the first place? Just trust the carrots be carrots, the shrooms be shrooms, the seitan be whatever the hell seitan is, and leave bacon to be bacon—no faking.