Wednesday, July 03, 2019

"And Another Thing Broad Ripple Has Ruined Me For..."

     ...Is bacon.  Tam made the remark after blind taste-testing this morning but it could have as well been me, when I cooked up some supposedly high-end bacon I'd ordered from Amazon Prime Delivery Monday after working all night and being to sleepy to shop in person.

     You know, the kind of bacon sold sealed in plastic?  We just don't buy it; the corner market's got the good stuff, applewood-smoked in big slabs and sliced on arrival.  Per-pound cost is not much more than the best prepackaged stuff and I can buy it in small amounts, avoiding the problem of using up a whole package of bacon before it begins tasting stale.

     It has made us bacon snobs; even the fancy thick-sliced applewood and cherry-smoked bacon I cooked this morning, fresh from vacuum-sealed plastic, is just "meh" compared to the butcher-shop stuff.

     Okay, that's the pretty much worst sort of 21st-Century food-hipsterism, but is it still pretentious when there's a real difference in taste and quality?

     (An omelette cures many ills -- as part of a filling with diced portobello mushroom caps and Swiss cheese, this assembly-line* bacon is okay.)
* But isn't it all assembly-line, really?  All commercial meat comes from an assembly, or more properly, disassembly line; some meat, like bacon and ham, then gets additional processing (and some gets even more).  I suspect the real difference in bacon comes from a slightly less-aggressive use of preservatives and shorter time from smoking to selling for the stuff we buy wrapped in brown paper at the butcher counter, versus the pale-pink and curiously-regular plastic-sealed flitches I grew up eating, two slices at a time.


diesel smoke said...

Ah Yes Bacon
Try Mahogany smoked meats from Bishop, Ca
The Jerky is great too.


B said...

Plus, all that plastic wrapped bacon has a LOT more water (or brine) than the freshly cut slab stuff you get at the local meat market.

RandyGC said...

Well both Trabants and high end Mercedes came off assembly lines. So there are assembly lines and then there are assembly lines.

And I don't think it qualifies as Hipsterism unless you are eating the bacon ironically.

Alien said...

I can remember far enough back that, growing up on the edge of downtown (city name redacted) grocery shopping was done in small neighborhood stores, what New Yorkers call "bodegas." The disadvantage was price; the huge supermarkets, just then beginning on the east coast, offering cheaper food were of the 'burbs and too distant to consider. The advantage was personalization. In urban apartments cupboard space was limited, refrigerators were small, freezer capacity not much more than a couple metal ice cube trays (remember them?) and maybe a TV dinner or two, so groceries were an every-couple-of-days thing. The advantage was personalization; you knew all the store employees, and they all knew you. Meats were cut fresh, often while you watched, and time cycles were such that it was barely a few days from the field. Thicker cuts, or thinner, were as the customer wanted, specialty items, though not regularly stocked, could be had with a few days' notice.

Children, of an age certain to earn the parents a felony today, were solitarily dispatched armed with a few dollars to hike the 3 or 4 blocks and procure a couple nights' dinner, the change often funding an ice cream cone from the soda counter at the drugstore next door. No butcher would dare slide a poor cut into the paper because while the kid wouldn't know, his mother would.

Stuff, per unit, is much cheaper today, the varieties immense, the convenience huge. I'm still not convinced, though, that then wasn't better in more than enough ways that matter.

pigpen51 said...

I think that simply due to the immense volume that the mass produced food processors deal with, there is no chance to, say, make bacon that has the flavor that we used to get from the grocery store in our small town that had it's own meat cutters on site. Of course, they did not smoke their own bacon, but they did buy it by the slab, and slice their own, and you could get various thicknesses if you so desired. They ground their own hamburger as well, and while the percentages of fat to lean might be the same as we get now, it tasted much differently than what we buy now.
The fact of economy of scale must have something to do with a lot of what we see going on at the grocery stores, with the smaller stores having to fight hard to compete with a Walmart or a Costco.
But in my small city, of less than 40,000 people in the city proper, we have a couple of stores like Aldi and Sav a Lot. They sell most things at a much cheaper price, although they don't always have brand name food items that we are used to, although on many items they do. But the Sav a Lot actually has their own butcher and they cut their own meat. Their fresh cut meat is better quality than you can get at most any other place in town, except for any dedicated butcher, of which we have a few in town, but their prices are higher. But at the butchers, you can get fresh smoked meats, and things like fresh made bratwurst, or liverwurst, etc. They smoke their own bacon, which is of course very good, but also quite expensive, and we don't actually eat a lot of bacon.

markm said...

The mass-produced bacon is not smoked, it's cured chemically (with carcinogens, but so is smoke). Smoking takes too long, but the chemical curing does not give the right flavor.