Bacon Unwrapped

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Kosher Bacon

In the same way that some vegetarians find bacon to be the hardest meat to resist, I also have a few Jewish friends who are easily tempted by bacon, despite it not being kosher. But for those vegetarians and Jewish individuals who can resist temptation, there are quite a few alternatives to pork bacon these days.

One alternative to pork bacon is turkey bacon. Those of us who are bacon-obsessed and not restricted by our religion or diet may not fully appreciate what turkey bacon has to offer. But if you can't have the real thing, at least you can play along in the spirit of bacon. And turkey bacon is actually pretty widely available - Jennie-O makes a version that can be found in most major grocery stores.

Another kosher bacon I recently encountered is duck bacon. Yes, you heard me right, duck bacon. I was surprised myself. I found it at Dean and Deluca - I imagine you won't find this one in most neighborhood grocery stores. Naturally I had to buy some and try it out.

And the tastes nothing like bacon. It's kind of cut to look like bacon, although it just looks like dark duck meat cut in strips, not marbled bacon. But there is absolutely nothing about the taste that resembles bacon. However, for duck it was actually pretty good - it tasted like a thin piece of fried duck meat. It is also very different to cook - because the duck meat is more delicate and contains less fat than pork, you literally cook it for 15-20 seconds on each side over low to medium heat and that's it. More than that and you'll burn it.

If duck isn't your thing or - if like the majority of the country - you don't live near a Dean and Deluca, some other kosher bacon options include beef bacon, lamb bacon and tofu bacon.

For those of us who aren't prevented from eating bacon for dietary or religious reasons, we know there truly is no substitute for bacon from a pig. But all the non-pork bacon options that are available these days just go to show that everyone truly does love bacon, kosher or not.

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  • I'm Jewish. But I've also never held back from the bacon.

    Kosher's odd. I'd probably be stoned in some parts of the world for expressing this particular theory, but here goes:

    Kosher was basically put in place as a health code. The Kosher laws cover more than just eating, they also detail how to drink, clean and generally live hygenically. This was great, for a long, long time (Jews had a tendency, for example, not to die in the Black Plague - their homes were too clean for fleas). Thus the foods banned by Kosher are generally ones that are difficult (were difficult) to prepare safely - like pigs. Rather than explain (or even understand) the science of 'why badly prepared pork kills you', it was easier just to say 'God doesn't want you to eat pork'. Makes sense.

    Now that we've got modern food hygiene, some of it seems a little outdated. I understand and respect why they're there, but, well, I also like bacon.

    By Blogger Jared, at 10:08 AM  

  • This post has been removed by the author.

    By Blogger Jonathan, at 7:54 AM  

  • Jared's comment is a typical response of jews who never took the time to properly learn the history or laws of kashrut, but who also don't want to feel guilty about the fact that they are breaking jewish law. Kashrut being implemented as a "health code" is mere rumor which has no factual basis, but which is immediately accepted by those looking for a way out.

    It is true that most kosher foods are safer and/or healthier than their non-kosher counterparts. However this doesn't necessarily speak to the spiritual reasons why some foods were banned and others weren't. Quite to the contrary, non-kosher food may have been intentionally created to be dangerous as a way of preventing people from eating spiritually unhealthy foods.

    Originally nobody was allowed to eat meat... only after the flood were people finally allowed to eat meat. However this allowance came with warnings from god about not consuming spiritually impure food. Basically gods approach is: You are what you eat. Therefore we were forbidden from eating animals which were violent (birds of prey, animals with whole hooves) or unclean (pigs, pawed animals, and bottom-feeders). Furthermore, we were instructed on how to properly kill (respectfully and with minimal pain) and prepare the animals.

    That all having been said, I also love a good turkey bacon.

    By Blogger Jonathan, at 7:55 AM  

  • It seems that too many people do not know about beef bacon. One friend of mine says that once you've had it, you'll never go back to pork bacon! Non-Kosher Jews, take note!

    By Blogger Haime52, at 10:37 AM  

  • The only duck bacon I know of is D'Artagnan, and it is NOT kosher. Just because a product does not contain pork does not make it kosher. In order to be kosher, the product needs to have a "hechsher" on it (a certification showing it is kosher). This is because even animals that are kosher to eat, such as duck or turkey, must be killed in a particular manner and prepared in a particular manner (salted, soaked, etc.) to be kosher. Morningstar Breakfast strips (soy-based "bacon") has such a certification, as do some of the turkey bacons.

    By Blogger GrandmaRoz, at 12:27 PM  

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