Image credit: Bacon by cyclonebill, on Flickr
National Bacon Day celebrates all things bacon! Smoked meat lovers will celebrate the food that serves as the center of their world - bacon. There are two different dates for Bacon Day, and we are happy to observe both (International Bacon Day is on Aug. 31).
The History Of Bacon How about a shout-out to those ancient Middle Easterners who domesticated* the wild boar as early as 9,000 B.C.E., in the Tigris River basin. (The boar was domesticated independently in Asia.)
To these brave and hungry hunters and boar-wranglers we owe ham and bacon—although the modern bacon we know and love wouldn’t appear until the mid-1700s.
While boar and pig meat was cured from earliest times (smoked, salted and/or dried), it was in the early- to-mid 18th century in which a transformation began that distinguished “bacon” as the side of pork (the pig’s sides), cured with salt. Numerous food historians credit pig farmers in the English countryside for noticing that some breeds of pig had meatier sides.
The British system for making bacon became widespread in the 18th century, and spread to other parts of Europe.
By the 1700s in England, bacon was defined as meat cut from the side of the pig and cured with salt. If you come across the word gammon in books or films from the U.K., it refers to the entire side of bacon. A rasher is a thin slice of bacon or ham for frying or broiling or a portion of three or four slices.
According to The Oxford Companion To Food, the first large-scale bacon curing business was established in the 1770s in the county of Wiltshire, in south-central England, by one John Harris.
According to some accounts of the history of bacon, John Harris of Wiltshire set up one of the first bacon curing shops in the country. The place has certainly become known for its production of bacon.
In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, Asian pigs were introduced to Europe and crossbred to create breeds with qualities that made them better as bacon pigs, lard pigs, ham pigs and so forth. Today there are more than 70 breeds in commercial production.
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