Savor the South–Bacon

Bacon by Fred Thompson, UNC Press 2016, cloth $19.00, 132 pages

Bacon by Fred Thompson, UNC Press 2016, cloth $19.00, 132 pages

A pig resembles a saint in that he is more honored after death than during his lifetime.

Irma S. Rombauer

With great restraint, UNC Press has resisted adding Bacon to its Savor the South series until the fourth year. I would have started with bacon.

But this one is certainly worth the wait. Fred Thompson has Southern cooking in his bones and can conjure and adapt delicious recipes that are easy to cook and satisfying to eat.

Like all Savor the South cookbooks, this one begins with some anchoring exposition. Thompson starts with history–pigs were brought to the South by Spanish explorers in the 1530s and thrived in swampy bottomland that wasn’t good for crops or cattle.

Farmers like his grandfather kept a few hogs as an easy source of protein and pork became a quintessential Southern food. But even though now, and like Thompson’s father, most Southerners don’t farm, pork remains a touchstone food.

And here, bacon appears in appetizers, at breakfast, in soups, salads and sandwiches, in mains and sides, and, not surprisingly, in desserts. Is there some carnivore you’re trying to capture? Make them Salted Caramel Bacon Brownies and they’ll be yours forever. If you eat Bacon Sour Cream Coffee Cake with Maple Glaze for breakfast, you have all day to work it off.

And don’t overlook the bacon fat–this is a food that keeps on giving. Thompson calls it a “great wonder of the culinary world,” not to be wasted and a vital flavor enhancer. To store it, he suggests clarifying the fat to remove any bits of meat that might go rancid. He uses it to make pie crust, but also, god help us, mayonnaise.

Ignore the trend-eaters and get back to bacon basics–chowder, BLT, biscuits, and greens.

About Appetite for Books

read, cook, eat, repeat
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