Last week I traveled to England for my brother’s wedding. I had never been there before and was not sure what to expect. I knew they drive on the left side of the road, call police Bobbies, and eat beans for breakfast, but I didn’t know the answer to the most important question of them all. What is English bacon like?
When I checked out the local cafés and pubs I found something that you never seem to find in the U.S. There was bacon everywhere: bacon and eggs sandwiches, BLTs, bacon baguettes, bacon flavored crisps, and bacon and toast. My mouth was watering just looking at the menus.
I went to a café for my first taste of English bacon. I got the classic English breakfast that consisted of: 2 eggs, 2 sausages, 2 strips of bacon, beans, black pudding, toast, and a cup of tea. The waiter set it down in front of me and my heart sank. There next to my eggs were two large strips of what can only be described as ham. That’s right, it was none other than the dreaded back bacon.
I couldn’t believe it. I asked some of the locals about this and they told me that back bacon was “proper bacon.” To which I said “there is nothing proper about this.” It was like I was in my own private hell. So I went on a quest to find pork belly.
I went to a bunch of different places and with each order my hatred for the England grew. But the thing that pushed me over the edge was when I ordered a BLT. It came with lettuce, tomato, and two large slices of back bacon. When I started to force it down, I realized it was missing one key ingredient, mayonnaise.
I walked up to the counter and asked for some and was told that they didn’t have any. All they had was ketchup and brown sauce (a blown liquid that tastes like a sweet A1 sauce that the Brits seem to put on everything).
As I think back to history class and the reasons for the American Revolution, (oppression, and taxation without representation) and can’t help but think I was lied to. The real reason the states wanted to break free from British rule was pork bellies and mayo. No longer did the colonies want to eat mayo-less back bacon sandwiches. As I did more research into the subject I found that the original plan for the Boston tea party was to throw pigs overboard to show their outrage. But it was decided that the pigs never did anything to harm them and it would have been a waste of precious pork belly. So they decided that since only Brits, women, and girly men drank tea (real men drink coffee) they would use it to get their point across and the rest is history.
I did come across some real bacon over there but it was somewhat disappointing. It was a single chewy not fully cooked strip wrapped around some green beans.
Other than the lack of real bacon the trip was great and if I ever go back I’ll be sure to hide some Hickory Smoked in my carry-on.
By Sean Brett