If you’ve spent any serious time with the Food Network—I’ve probably logged enough hours in front of the TV to receive an honorary degree from the Culinary Institute of America—you’re all too familiar with one particular and constant banging of the rendering pot: “Everything’s better with bacon!”
is might be too much bacon.
via Daily Fork
John Fraser was able to bring the whole idea home, helping me find the words for my “everything’s better with bacon” disdain, and why I might actually prefer the taste of brussels to bacon when it comes to my sprouts. Fraser is the executive chef of New York City’s Narcissa, whose cuisine has been lauded for showcasing and revering vegetables as much as any of the menu’s wonderful animal proteins. A man who likes meat, but understands its place.
“My baseline is on the side of the purist,” he begins. “Just the other night I had a baked potato for dinner. It was served with bacon bits. No one is going to argue that bacon and potatoes taste good together. However, I showed up for the flavor of the potato, which I added butter and salt to. If I told you I was going to put a slab of chicken breast on a steak, you would call me nuts—they both taste good separately, but together there is a tug of war in terms of flavor. In bacon’s case, it’s not a tug of war—it takes over without a fight. I try to understand what bacon brings to a dish and look to emulate it in the dish preparation. Staying with the brussels sprouts—they love smoke and salt. Bacon is their soulmate. However, if you toss them on the wood grill whole and sprinkle them with some sea salt to finish, my bet is that I can convince you that the bacon actually covers the flavor of the brussels. I would like to work under the assumption that brussels are delicious alone, and that the bacon is a distraction rather than an enhancer.”
So not everything is better with bacon, after all? “I would respond that bacon always becomes the loudest friend in the room, and that’s OK sometimes,” Fraser says, “but there is nuance that it doesn’t allow. Sometimes you should listen to the quiet friend in the corner.”
That will be me, peacefully enjoying my bacon-free brussels, thinking about my next BLT.