Warning: Food Rants

A guest post from another Southerner in exile….
This is apropos of nothing.  Just bubbled out of nowhere–as rants are wont to do.

I’ve been put off some of my usual programming on the TV so I’ve been watching a lot of the cooking and if I hear/read another foodie say in a public context, “bacon makes everything better,” I’m going to hit someone.  It’s not that I disagree, it’s just that it’s become such a tried, appropriated, bent out of shape, crap, food trope that it’s somehow moved beyond cliche into irritating catch-phrase like something an over the hill sportscaster uses to retain his 40 something audience.  If you use it among friends, fine.  Like all cliches, they’re usually right and can be wielded effectively.
But Bacon fest? Sure, I’ll go, but it doesn’t mean I’ll feel good about it.  It makes me angry in the same way that the PBR thing makes/made me angry (it’s no longer as prominent so less opportunity, I guess).  This is like discovering gravity as far as I’m concerned.
Adding bacon to potatoes makes things taste better? Adding a salty meat that can be fried and cut into little pieces like a spice makes things taste better?!?!!! As my favorite drill sergeant says, “HOL-Y FUCK-ING DOGSHIT!!” (go here and hit the appropriate button–as well as every other one for that matter).  Every culture has known this for centuries.  Hell, even friggin’ Applebees, TGI-Friday’s, and every other pub/chain in America that has a potatoes/cheese/bacon combination or any salad bar that offers bacon bits have known this since before there were food channels, the internets, and our bloated food/entertainment culture.

Caveat nummer eins:  I 100% agree bacon makes everything taste better.  I even saw bacon fat infused bourbon on a cooking show, *watched how it was made* (and it’s just as bleak as it sounds-recipe shortly), and am willing to try it at home, *even it fails*.  Given that an entire episode of Friends (or subplot at least) was based around “drinking the fat” to prove one’s love for another–yes, I’m embarrassed I know it and so are you, but it was the most popular sitcom outside of Seinfeld for a long time and that was my choice given my general disregard for Yankee accents and blind loyalty to all things New York–oh and the women were kind of pretty–the risk of being wrong and getting a mouthful of bacon grease is reason enough not to try it at home.  But I would.  Long way of saying, I agree, but it doesn’t negate my original point.

Caveat nummer zwei: Bacon tastes good.

2. The real reason it gets my, um, screw it–as a Southerner this especially annoys me in the context of American cooking.  The indie/hipster move (that happened about a year ago I realize, but bear with me) regarding bacon is roughly akin to looking at a Native American and saying “Wow, isn’t it great that we discovered corn? There are so many uses for it! And it’s so good!”  Not pretty, but raising hogs and pigs is a big part of Southern culture.

Southern food also reflects the food of the poor and the food of the plantation owners (in the deep South where I’m from).  The pig is a *perfect example*.  Every single part of the pig gets eaten except the tail–hell, even the skull’s used as a pot in uber-traditional cooking methods of making Brunswick stew and given how much of that I’ve consumed who knows whether I’ve experienced that or not.  And it’s not just the poor, if you lived on a plantation, when you slaughtered the pig, you had to make the damned thing last.

Long story short, the multiplicity of uses of pork isn’t exactly a new thing.  Declaring it makes everything taste better is a bit like saying “fried” makes everything taste better or “sugar” makes everything taste better.  It’s like when I was in a restaurant and I asked a waitperson about their opinion and they said innocently, “have the pork, really, how often do you have pork?”.  I was with a friend from Arkansas I went to UGA with and we both started laughing and immediately felt like asses, even though it’s true, pork and beef are probably pretty close in terms of our relative consumption.

3. I tried this recipe, because it was late night, I wanted a drink and some sugar and I’m an adult so I didn’t have to ask.

Embarrassing Dirty Martini (because it’s neither a martini nor dirty and drinking it is messy)

Cinnamon Ice Cream

2 Tbsp Cocoa powder
2 Tbsp Cinnamon
(Enough of each to coat balls)
1.5 oz Vodka (or as much as you can handle)
Melon baller
Wooden skewer cut in half
Chilled glass

Place glass and melon baller in the freezer for 15-30 minutes until cold as possible
Pour Vodka
Make 2 ice cream balls
Roll in Cinnamon and Cocoa
Place back in baller
Pierce with skewer leaving enough room for second ball to go on top and enough room on bottom so that bottom half of ball is submerged

Place glass in front of drinker and add skewer.  If done right, balled ice cream are your stuffed olives and as soon as you place the “toothpick” in the martini, the vodka will get cloudy and the cinnamon will float.

Let me know what you think.  I liked it, but was desperate.  If I was a molecular gastronomist this would be child’s play involving some sort of dry ice/frozen nitrogen concoction. Suggestions? Critiques? (short of raiding a crystal meth lab for equipment)

*Bacon-infused bourbon

3 oz shot of bacon grease
About a bottle of bourbon–don’t skimp on quality once you get it right since you probably don’t want to mix it so people can get the flavor

Pour liquified bacon into bourbon.  Wait about 6-8 hours. Skim remaining bacon fat off the top.  Cool to room temperature slowly, if it isn’t already.
Strain if you’re paranoid.

Strain again through a coffee filter.
If you do it again through a Brita you have a problem.
Drink over ice.
I haven’t tried it, but it sounds fantastic (although where I’m going to get 3 oz of bacon grease I have no idea)
Much thanks to Chris M!

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