englishbacon

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

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38 Responses to Review of What the English Call Bacon

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  2. PocketBacon says:

    You need what the Brits call ‘streaky bacon’.

  3. I suppose that had been a disappointing experience on England bacon. Good that the trip was good in general!

  4. Aaron says:

    wow… ya’ll should do some research and let us know what other countries have real bacon or ham. It’d make an awesome bacon travel guide.

  5. British Bacon eater says:

    British Bacon is the same as Danish and Irish. I guess you might compare it to Ham, but for us in the UK its very different. Ham in the Uk is quite thin compared to the UK version of Bacon and we wouldn’t fry our version of Ham. I am looking forward to trying some proper american bacon on my trip over.

  6. Liz says:

    Thankfully, we Brits aren’t stuck in a world of back bacon – next time you’re over here, ask for streaky bacon instead, which is the good stuff. (Most BLTs here use streaky – I’m sorry you happened upon an aberrant version.)

    If you find yourself in a British supermarket, keep an eye out for dry-cured smoked streaky (available pretty much everywhere), or my favourite, a wet-cured treacle one from Waitrose. Lots of butchers cure their own too; the situation is not as dire as you think!

    One difference I have noticed is that bacon in the US is more likely to be cooked to a crisp. Here in the UK, we seem to tend towards a crisp edge, but don’t crisp the whole slice. It’s still wonderful stuff.

  7. Ed says:

    Hey,

    I’m from the UK, but am traveling the states at the moment and have to say that I much prefer our British bacon. American bacon is far more fatty-looking and you get way less bacon for your buck compared to back home.

    Bread is a weird one here too. It’s all very sugary tasting. Some other things I’ve noticed include:

    American biscuit = British scone (but a savory version)
    American zucchini = British courgette
    American cilantro = British coriander

    That’s all!

    Ed.

  8. Des says:

    Actually the wierdest thing about cheap/average priced american bread is how long it stays fresh without going moldy… bread in the US can last 2-3 weeks, bread in the UK is likely to last 5 days in comparison.

  9. Des says:

    If you are a brit looking for Back Bacon, then try Fresh and Easy… they are located in CA and AZ but are expanding.

    There website is http://www.freshandeasy.com/

  10. Steve says:

    I’m sorry for the experience you had. However, it is always proper to know the terms the locals call things. Back bacon IS bacon in the UK and streaky bacon is what the UK calls our bacon. I personally prefer theirs and wish I could find it locallly. UK culture is different than ours. We are an I WANT IT MY WAY society. Maybe we should learn to have it their way when we are in their country. BTW: The tea party was over taxation, not culinary preference. Next time you go, maybe you should seek out a Buger King and have it your way.

    Cheers.

  11. Stan says:

    In the upper midwest we have lots of hogs and great “streaky bacon”. Most of our groceries also feature Canadian Bacon, which looks and sounds like the bacon of Britton.

  12. Carmel says:

    Dear Sean

    I’m sorry you didn’t like our bacon. Clearly you need to develop better taste buds. Our bacon is lush. You can only eat yours when it is burnt to a crisp as it is virtually all fat. Now eating fat has its place (if you come back ask for a bag of pork scratching) but you can’t beat a nice piece of smoked bacon. And no it doesn’t taste like ham at all, which is best boilet (in coke) and then roasted) yum. Oh and Liz when you say that most places here use streaky bacon for BLT’s that is simply not true. There may be a small amount of fat on the bacon but not to the extent you get it in the US. I would agree though that mayonaise does taste good on BLT’s

    Does anyone know why bacon smells so good??

    Carmel

  13. tony p says:

    My mouth waters just looking at the picture. English bacon is vastly superior to American bacon.

  14. anne says:

    As A Brit living In the US I have to say I am very disappointed in the food, I buy fresh meat and veg and cook English things like shepherds pie yorkshire puddings etc my husband loves it. We go to store that sells food from other countries, there we buy Heinze baked beans, Branston pickle, oxo cubes and some other things. It costs a lot but American beans are horrible and always have something in them.
    The bread here is sweet.far to sweet I have to use marmalade to take away the taste, although that is sweet it has a sharpeness to it. NOW THE BACON….its horrid..its all fat and YES you do have to cook it to a crisp to get rid of the fat, I rarely eat it. American cheese is like processed cheese and its orange, I buy swiss cheese to get a nicer taste. They seem to smoke everything here or put sugar or something it.there is no such thing as just food as is.

    Apart from the disappointing food….America is great…!!!

  15. bacon knight says:

    Anne,
    You’re right a lot of American food is processed with tons of sugar and salt. If you want food that isn’t you have to pay a little more.
    I very much enjoyed British food, it was like good home cooking. Steak and kidney pudding was amazing but sadly you don’t find that on many menus here. In the states we look at things like sausage and mash as unhealthy but have no problem pound down countless tons of deep fried potatoes.
    Yes a lot of bacon here is nothing but fat. That’s because it is cheaper for restaurants to use subpar bacon and sadly we just accept it. There are some high quality bacons that have just the right amount of fat, but once again its going to cost you.
    On of our missions here at Mr. Baconpants is to build awareness of the higher quality bacon and to refuse to eat the burnt thin strips of fat some places call bacon, I’m looking at you burger king.
    Thanks for posting if you have anymore experiences with bacon, good or bad, let us know.

  16. Bill says:

    English bacon rules. American bacon is 40-50% fat. God’s own sandwich is English bacon on a buttered roll with HP (brown) sauce.
    P.S. I bet you ate at McDonalds in England, didn’t you?

  17. Buttie says:

    Our American bacon is terrible in comparison to British bacon. Once I tried it i never looked back! Too many Americans get in automatic defence mode, just admit our bacon isn’t that great.

  18. Tom says:

    “BTW: The tea party was over taxation, not culinary preference.”

    Looks like you completely missed the point.

  19. Johndoe says:

    You complete tw@t…

  20. Anonymous says:

    I have to say I hate American bread, very sugary, just not the same. Been in the US for 20 years and won’t eat the bread though I have found sugar free wheat bread  by natures own that I will eat, and it will  be a bacon sarnie with brown sauce….mmmmmm

  21. Mike says:

    It’s all about what you grew up with. I grew up in Australia with back and middle (similar) bacon. When I moved to the US I was horrified with the bacon here. When you’re used to back bacon you don’t think it’s like ham at all. This is like comparing some old lady’s boiled sweets to some amazing confection from a high end chocolatier just because they are both made primarily out of sugar.

    I don’t enjoy the taste or texture of American bacon at all. It’s either cooked so crisply that it shatters into a thousand pieces if you touch it with a fork or it’s tough like strips of denim.

  22. Me says:

    Back bacon is what is called proper bacon is most other countries where they really know how to enjoy good food. The American style bacon you’re thinking of isn’t that popular in other countries because it isn’t that good.

  23. Kravan says:

    That streaky, 60% fat riddled gristly rubbish Americans call bacon is NOT bacon – the nerve of this article to
    not only compare it to proper bacon, but to then say that it is the ‘proper’
    bacon!!! Brit/Rest of world bacon – the one that actually has some meat
    on it, is bacon. End of.

    Have to give the author fair play though, he at least TRIED actual
    proper bacon, thus his opinion is based on first hand experience and
    thus is valid – which is a lot more than most people will do before jumping to defensive mode. I like a lot of things about the states, but the food is too full of sugars, fats and additives – and the bacon is amongst the worst – more fat than meat, badly cooked and crumbly/crusty. No taste whatsoever.

    But I guess the point is that you grow up so used to something lousy, that you don’t want to switch is true..

  24. Baconaneggs1 says:

    Mr Baconpants, what a wanker you are. 
    The word derives originally from the Old High German “bacho”, meaning “buttock”, which in turn derived from the Proto-Germanic “backoz”, meaning “back”.  By the 14th century, it found its way into Old French as “bacun”, meaning “back meat”.  And by the 16th century, it found its way into Middle English as “bacoun” We invented the word bacon in England. We’ll decide what it is, thanks. Did any of your descendants even live in America in the 16th century? Bacon is loved loved loved in England. Whatever you try and pass for bacon in your arrogant land of stupid people, give it another name. Imagination=0. 
     

  25. Alex says:

    Wow, you are quite easily the most annoying, humorless, and intolerant person I’ve read in some weeks. Congratulations!

  26. Mia Efr says:

    - American cilantro = British coriander-
    Actually the green herb is cilantro and the seed is coriander.

  27. Jeremy Darnell says:

    Just want to say your comment about tea was completly wrong. Most popular drink in the World besides water is tea. Only reason why hot tea is not number one in America is because the British and the revolution.

  28. borgib says:

    American Bacon rocks! I have this argument with my British friend all the time.

  29. Rae Farrell says:

    The Romans got it all started by curing pork shoulders into a form of bacon but it was the English/Brits that have along with their colonized brethren the Canadian’s and the Australian’s who perfected the taste/texture of real back bacon using a few different curing methods/cuts, achieving world class results.

    Canadians perfected the wet cure non-smoked pea meal back bacon, while our great friends the Australians use mostly middle bacon the lean loin cut with the delicious pork belly or streaky US style cut left attached. ( My personal favorite )

    May I suggest to the author that not-unlike the wonderful diversities of all peoples throughout the world, we also have diversities in bacon.

    Dry cure, wet cure, smoked, green, belly pork, side pork, back pork.

    Rather than knocking every type/style of bacon eaten around the world while bragging up your US type of bacon that predominately uses pork bellies to make bacon, (Very tasty bacon I would admit)

    May I suggest though, that you try to make an effort like most Americans should try to make critical effort to be more open minded or worldly, and less critical of everything non- American.

    American’s if they really want to stop being disliked by most of the world for their brash arrogance/ignorance about the world they live in might start trying to be more open minded, inclusive rather than being so divisively ignorant and negative about all things that are not “”Made In the USA””.

  30. Rae Farrell says:

    Your comment that tea is a girls drink, really?

    If you have read any history about the worlds great explorers, warriors, hunters, tribesmen, bushmen, inuit, which I doubt you have you would have learned that the toughest most resilient peoples of the world who live and endure is some of the worlds harshest climates drank/drink tea.

  31. James Brumby says:

    british bacon is what us in the states call funky tasting ham. mcdonald’s has a better tasting slice of it on their breakfast sandwich.

  32. mowgli66 says:

    No. Canadian bacon is not like British bacon. It’s not even like bacon in Canada, which is peameal bacon.

  33. mowgli66 says:

    Mdonalds bacon is really just thin sliced ham.

  34. kfsone says:

    I’m a little puzzled that you’d write British bacon off as ham and I’m kinda surprised that you encountered so much brown sauce; I suspect you got tourist serving. But since moving out here 10 years ago, I struggle with the American notion of bacon. It’s fat with bits of meat. Back bacon, having a pork-chop like attachment of meat has a lot more versatility. If you turn the heat up a bit, cook it at 450-475f, it’ll come out like a broad slab of American bacon. Cook it lower – 410f for me – and it’s soft and chewy, like a good jerky, but warm and moist. The next challenge, though, is to find your treatment: Saltiness, degree of smoking, cured or uncured. Frankly, most restaurants in England use the cheap stuff for the english breakfast, something that blends well the rest of the plate rather than standing out from it. You have to find a restaurant that promotes it’s “Bacon Sarnie” (bacon + optional sauce + bread).

  35. Randolf Neil says:

    The best bacon in the world is English. The worst I think is Australian. It always reminds me of a piece of shiny, floppy plastic. It refuses to cook properly and turns black before it gets crispy.
    Lord only knows what they do to it.

  36. English Bacon says:

    English bacon does not taste like ham it taste like delicious bacon.American bacon is mostly fat and is burnt to a crisp.you get much more and tastier. bacon bacon bacon bacon bacon!!!!!

  37. Blake Moore says:

    We have pork belly bacon – we just call it streaky bacon. On a side note, Back Bacon is far superior to streaky :)

  38. Arthur Compton says:

    The puffing, strutting, distinctly “continental” outrage on these comments is hilarious.

    He. was. making. a. joke. This is a joke page. It’s not serious. He’s not threatening your national bacon preferences, you idiotic limeys. Calm the fuck down. Or calm your bollocks. Whichever version makes you less enraged.

    To anybody who’s eaten properly cooked (i.e – crispy but not hard, slightly flexible but not rubbery) porkbelly bacon for any length of time, back bacon simply tastes like a piece of ham. There’s no way around it. The consistency is vastly different, largely because it’s cut VASTLY thicker than Americans are used to. The fat content is another issue, but not the primary issue. And no, it’s not because all Americans are morbidly obese and hate things that aren’t full of fat. Please refer to the first sentence of this post, and also examine your own culinary staples, all of which are LOADED with animal fat.

    If we wanted a piece of “British bacon”, we’d buy a cured, smoked ham and cut a 1cm piece off and fry it. We DO have ham here as well, although we tend to cut that very thinly as well.

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