Bacon is over. It was fun a few years ago when the world first discovered the novelty of adding bacon to everyday foods but it's 2009 and bacon has officially jumped the shark. Searching for "bacon" on youtube yields 22,100 results. a Google search results in 45,700,000 hits. There is bacon chocolate, bacon brittle, bacon ice cream, bacon fried steak, bacon bacon burgers, bacon bandaides, a bacon tiara... I have even found numerous web pages suggesting one fashion a bacon condom, have sex and then... make breakfast. Enough.
I don't dislike bacon. It's salty and sweet and meaty. It makes a good addition to most foods. It's cheap. It's fun to eat. it's meat candy. I KNOW. But seriously -- it's way overdone. Its gotten to the point where every wannabe foodie in America has given up on actual creativity in favor of stacking bacon on top of any old crap and calling it genius. It is all but impossible for me to meet any new bacon application with anything other than a roll of the eyes. It's time for a new food king; a new condiment to rule them all; a new bacon.
Obviously the new bacon needs to be tasty but taste alone will not be enough for our new ultimate additive. Bacon is ubiquitous because it is a pretty snazzy little food and its replacement will have to be equally exceptional. Bacon 2.0 will need to be as appealing atop a burger as it is mixed into ice cream. It will need to be cheap and prevalent enough that most Americans can easily afford to experiment. And, perhaps most importantly and certainly most elusively, it will have to have a certain flair. People like bacon because adding it to food serves as a big fuck you to doctors, vegetarians, that muscle-y guy in the gym, cholesterol and every other flag waver in our diet conscious society. They may have thin thighs and a long life span but we have smoked pork belly! Piling on the bacon gives people the little adrenaline rush of being naughty and its replacement has to give us a similar spark of rebellion (without really risking all that much, I'm leaving out contenders that might actually kill you, sorry blowfish).
And so without further ado I bring you the foods that might save us all from frat boys, bloggers and lazy chefs waving around strips of bacon like the checkered flag in the Digg Bait 500.
Tabasco is already one of those foods that showoffs turn to less for flavor than for bravado yet I think it has a lot of untapped potential to bring the party to new foods. I'm especially intrigued by the idea of sweet tobasco preparations. The torrid love affair between chili and chocolate has already been well established by the likes of Jacque Torres but I want to try tobasco creme brulee. Another advantage is that tobasco is cheap and can be added to almost anything with a simple shake of the bottle (no actually purchasing or cutting up of chilies required). Sadly, liquids are at a bit of a disadvantage in this competition if only because no one will ever be able to fashion a Tobasco bra unless they hunt down the actual chilies and a girl with especially callous nipples.
I know everyone has wet panties for pork fat but I'll take cheese over pig any day. (Did I just use cheese, pork and a reference to my panties in the same sentence? Yes. Sexy, right?). Gorgonzola also has the bonus of being a strong flavor that can probably hold up any dish, I've had it both on a burger and bathed in honey and loved each dish equally. I am excited about the possibility of gorgonzola ice cream and gorgonzola chocolate truffles, but somehow gorgonzola doesn't have the hype of some of the other contenders. Despite being fattening and flavorful and badass-y (you're eating mold!) I can't really see chefs and foodies getting into an uproar over the concept of blue cheese slathered all over breakfast lunch and dinner.
Like bacon, schmaltz is cheap peasant fare made up almost entirely of fat. It certainly has the flavor profile to elbow itself into the starring role in any dish it enters but I'm not sure the flavor is really that easy to marry to other food. Not even my adventurous stomach feels ready for the likes of chicken fat ice cream and I'm not even sure that I'm that interested in a schmaltz burger. Also, you'd pretty much have to make schmaltz at home and most of us are way too lazy to do that.
Like tobasco, bourbon suffers from the sin of being liquid. That said I think bourbon is well positioned to take over -- it has a strong, easily identifiable flavor that tastes great with sweet or savory preparations and high cholesterol has nothing on alcoholism when it comes to badassness.
Duck confit might be most able to compete with bacon for the title of "food most likely to serve as the catalyst for a coronary indecent." since it actually comes enshrined in a shiny coating of rendered duck fat. It's also the ingredient that I'm most intrigued with from an experimentation perspective -- duck confit mac and cheese? yes. duck confit and eggs? yes. duck confit donut? YES. I do worry a bit that duck doesn't have the flavor punch of bacon -- it would taste great in almost anything but doesn't assert itself in a way that inspires total devotion. I also expect people to argue that duck confit is too fancy pants to be considered easily accessible but I was able to walk into a corner grocery and buy a leg for $6.99 (This may be easier to do in NYC than Iowa City but I assure you that New York is often no prize winner when it comes to exceptional grocery stores ). However, duck confit also has the extra cache of being French and is there anything more rebellious than loving the French?
So who wins? Whose combo of flavor and flair reigns supreme? Personally I like anything enshrined in fat almost as much as I like pissing off people in Alabama with my love for the French so I gotta go duck confit but I'm open to being schooled in the comments.