mercredi 5 mars 2008

French porkyness

Our friend Heather runs the world's greatest bacon blog, where you can feast your senses on all things porcine. Apparently, she has appointed Maki as the blog's official Paris correspondent, and we've even had some of her readers send in questions about French bacon culture, as it were. Unfortunately, at the time, we were French bacon heathens and thus failed miserably in our roles as local correspondents. Anyway, now that we've been here a little longer, we felt it was time to delve into the strictly non-Kosher/Halal and report back.

I decided I was in the mood for a cooked breakfast so I went out to try and procure some bacon. For starters I should say that the dictionary translates bacon into French as "lard". Indeed, the most popular form of bacon in France is "Lardons" which are tiny little cubes of meaty bacon which are sold in all supermarkets and convenience stores. Their use is primarily in salads (French salads are not necessarily healthy diet rabbit food; I've ordered salads at cafes here that came with fried potatoes and bacon) and are similar to what you sometimes find in the US labelled as "pancetta" (I've also seen lardons there, probably only at chi-chi places like Whole Foods).

So I went to the local butcher shop and asked for "lard" and was given a mocking glare in return. Ok, obviously that's not what people buy here. I looked through the counter and found something that looked quite like bacon and it was called "poitrine" (which means breast in French) and there were two kinds: regular and smoked. I ordered a few slices of the smoked kind. While trying to figure out how thick he should cut the slices, the butcher asked me what I wanted to eat it with. I was too embarrassed to tell him I intended to eat it for breakfast: one mocking glare was quite enough for me, thank you. I did see that they also had something called "bacon" at the butcher but it was round, way too lean and looked like what's called "Canadian bacon" in the US.

I took some home and cooked it up. First observation: there was a little tiny piece of bone in it! Not a bad thing, mind you, but I had just never had bacon with bone in it before. Taste: great. Tastes like bacon only meatier than the kind you get in the US but not quite as meaty as British style bacon, more like something in between.

I'm actually a big fan of British style bacon and you can get it here in Paris at the Epicerie Anglaise near Place de la Republique. I've stocked some up in the freezer for next time I have a serious hangover. That with some eggs and some Heinz baked beans is the second best hangover cure. The first, of course, is to drink more.

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