During a recent event at the Coupe Space in Leslieville, the author Jennifer McLagan held a discussion of her book Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient. Demonstrating the virtues of this long-derided ingredient, she concocted and served a delicious sweet—bacon brittle. It was the latest in a long list of unusual bacon sightings. Torontonians are finding the cured meat everywhere as more and more local shops, bakeries and restaurants rediscover the fatty friend and work it into their wares. Canoe is serving bacon toffee crunch with its date pudding, and The Mercantile on Roncesvalles is stuffing its gift baskets with Vosges bacon chocolate bars, bacon salt and “baconaisse.”
For pork paramours, the phenomenon is a dream come true. We can taste the goodness all day by chewing bacon gum, joining the Bacon of the Month Club, wearing bacon lip balm, waking up with bacon, reading cookbooks devoted to bacon, savouring bacon-flavoured ice cream and munching bacon-infused chocolate. We can even wear it, should the trend jump into the fashion realm. Currently there are over 100 groups dedicated to bacon on Facebook (of which only three are of the Kevin variety), replete with enthusiasts attempting such recipes as the now-famous Bacon Explosion (two pounds of bacon and two pounds of sausage rolled into a football-size snack that contains over 500 grams of fat).
Why is bacon only now capturing (and clogging) Torontonian hearts? The economy is one reason, since pork remains cheaper than beef, and bacon has long been a comfort food. Morag Cleeveley, the chef and owner of Yummy Stuff on Queen Street West, credits the trend to novelty. The bakery is currently selling chocolate-oatmeal cupcakes with maple-bacon buttercream. “A lot of folks are curious and nervous, but everyone has liked it when they tasted it,” says Cleeveley. “They’re selling like hotcakes.”