A couple days ago, I was on a cross-country flight and my two meal options were a bow-tie pasta with pancetta (bacon's sexy Italian brother) or a sandwich with turkey bacon (I personally fall into the camp that believes turkey bacon isn't really bacon, but let's look beyond that for the moment). What's important to note here is my only two options both involved a meat that was either made from or inspired by cured pork belly. Bacon is everywhere. We are a Bacon Nation.
The unusual thing about writing my blog (BaconUnwrapped.com) and book (Bacon: A Love Story) is that I see bacon everywhere I go. Granted, I probably notice bacon's presence more than the average person because I'm always looking for new material. But since starting the blog, I've met a lot of people who make bacon a part of their daily lives. Whether subliminal or conscious, bacon is embedded in the American psyche.
While writing Bacon: A Love Story, I had the pleasure of meeting some of the friendly, fun, and devoted individuals who are the "Bacon Nation." They are the main characters in the book. The Bacon Nation is made up of farmers, curers, butchers, chefs, purveyors, and everyday fanatics. If you love bacon and somehow find a way to work it into your life — even if only on special occasions — then you are a member of the Bacon Nation.
The diversity of the Bacon Nation is incredible. I once exchanged emails with an account executive whose proudest accomplishment in the workplace was to defeat her colleagues in a pre-meeting bacon eating contest. I've become friends with a Washington, D.C.-based chef who once centered weekly happy hours and monthly dinners at his restaurant around bacon. Last summer, I spent a day with a woman who cures some of the best hams and bacon in the United States in a brick building in the backyard of her parents' house in a small town in western Kentucky — the same brick building where her father used to cure hams and bacon, too.
Earlier this year, I attended a full-day bacon festival at a bar in Des Moines that was packed with people from all walks of life who chose to spend their Saturday consuming as much bacon as possible (and in some cases, consuming as much alcohol as possible). There was a lot of love in the room that day.
To be honest, I kind of stumbled into the Bacon Nation by accident myself. I started BaconUnwrapped.com in June 2005 after a night of drinking with my brothers (the bacon and booze combo seems to be a recurring theme). Somehow, we had gotten on the topic of bacon and how it is the Best Meat Ever, which led to a discussion about starting a blog about bacon. When I was sober the next day I still thought it was a good idea (perhaps the first time that has ever happened), and thus began BaconUnwrapped.com.
Over the last four years, I've been on a mission to discover the Bacon Nation, and it has been one of the most entertaining and rewarding adventures of my life. There's nothing better than seeing the world through bacon-colored lenses.