Sunday, February 16, 2014

Food Watch: Hasn't the bacon thing by now gone a little too far? ("A little"? How about A LOT?)


by Ken

I had it in mind to do yet another bitch-slap session on Food Network, this time focusing on Food Network Magazine, which somehow I didn't catch up with until the last couple of years. (Regular publication began in 2009.) I've had a strange experience with FNM. I found my first few issues really exciting, but beyond the first half-dozen or so I found myself going through the motions, and lately I've found I can breeze through issues in a single 10- or 15-minute sitting, with very little I feel the need to go back to.

And now comes the "Bacon Issue" (March).

During the time of my readership there have been other issues focusing on a single ingredient, notably a "Cheese Issue," which turned out to generate some reader complaints. But cheese is one of humankind's great food products, and even though American cuisine has suffered one of those ghastly fad-swampings of dumping cheese into or onto everything that comes out of the kitchen, cheese remains a glorious and gloriously varied food. I don't know that the FNM cheese issue added much to the subject, but it wasn't one that I would reject out of hand as unworthy of such singled-out, singleminded treatment.

But bacon?

I an idea to wax righteously about the mentality that indiscriminately dumps bacon into everything that slips into the kitchen, and the degree of boredom and desperation with one's life that bacon obsession must surely represent, perhaps suggesting that a better culinary solution might be a powerful, fast-acting poison.

Instead, however, I decided to take the high road and simply list the bacon-themed and non-bacon-themed contents of the issue.


"The Bacon Buying Guide"
March "Calendar" -- all entries are bacon-themed
"You Asked . . ." -- questions for Food Network stars are all bacon-themed
"In the Know" news section opener: photo of lots of bacon
"In the Know: Food News": all 8 items bacon-themed
"In the Know: What's Your Bacon IQ?": the monthly quiz, all bacon-themed
"In the Know: Bring It Home": monthly gift suggestions, all bacon-themed
"In the Know: Faking It": tests of bacon substitutes made from beef, lamb, turkey, coconut, duck, chicken, and soy
"In the Know: Big Moments in Bacon Hysteria": 15 bacon events between 1997 and 2013
"In the Know: Bacon Bazaar": 32 bacon-themed "gimmicky gifts" from bacon iPhone case and bacon shower curtain to Breaking Bad style "BaCoN" Periodic Table T-shirt and 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle
"Fun Cooking":"Suckers for Bacon" (making "pancetta pops"), "Cure Your Own," crisp vs. not so crisp,
"How to Make Spiced Bacon": 8 versions from maple-chile and pie spice to Cajun and jerk
"Bacon Hero": 3 bacon-themed sandwiches
"Piece of Cake!": making a cake that looks like a BLT club
"Weeknight Cooking": only 2 of the 14 recipes contain bacon -- and none of the 4 "Easy Sides"!
"Hot Tips": only 1 of 4 involves bacon ("Freeze some bacon")
"Best Dressed: The secret to a great salad is a ht of bacon": 1 salad with pancetta (crab abd avocado), 2 with bacon (lentil with beets, spinach with warm dressing)
"Weekend Cooking":
-- "Bacon Lover's Brunch": Chicken and Bacon Waffles, Waldorf Slaw with Bacon, Smoky Bloody Marys
-- "Bacon Lover's Dinner": Bacon-Wrapped Blackberry Pork Roast, Smashed Potatoes with Bacon Salt, Haricots Verts with Pancetta
"Party Time": "Cheers to Bacon" -- 3 recipes from Ina Garten, only 1 featuring bacon, Caramelized Bacon ("the most outrageous hors d'oeuvre I've ever made, and maybe the most addictive"
Monthly insert booklet: "50 Bacon Appetizers," from Bacon-Wrapped Fries and Bacon-Wrapped Pineapple to Bacon Soup Shooters and Bacon-Cheese Croquettes
"Serious Bacon" -- recipes by Food Network and Cooking Channel stars:
-- Ree Drummond's Breakfast Pizza
-- Kelsey Nixon's BLT Burgers with Bacon Mayonnaise
-- Anne Burrell's Killer Mac and Cheese with Bacon
-- Sunny Anderson's Bacon Burger Dogs
"On the Sweet Side" -- 5 desserts:
-- Apple-Bacon Galette
-- Pecan-Bacon Squares à la Mode
-- Chocolate-Bacon Cupcakes with Dulce de Leche Frosting
-- Bacon-Pineapple Upside-Down Cake
-- Bacon Shortcake with Peanut Butter Whipped Cream
"On the Road": "United States of Bacon" -- monthly roundup of products from across the country, this month all 28 bacon-themed, including Boozy Bacon (Las Vegas), Bacon Sushi (Madison, WI), Bacon Cotton Candy (Houston), and Bacon Ice Cream (Hockessin, DE)
"Follow-Up": "Makin' Bacon -- A few things we learned while creating this issue," including:
-- "A bacon issue calls for a lot of bacon" -- more than 300 pounds, which yielded 20 gallons of bacon fat
-- "Bacon cakes can be tricky": before they came up with the BLT-club-shaped cake, some of the rejects included "a giant slice of bacon, a 'sizzling' breakfast skillet, and a dinner plate topped with Tootsie Roll bacon and an apricot egg [pictured]"
-- "Bacon does not, in fact, make everything taste better" -- alcohol infused with bacon was found to look "like a scary science project"
"Name This Dish!": bacon candy made with 16 slices of bacon


-- the monthly "Star Kitchen" feature (Joe Bastianich)
-- as noted above, 12 of the 14 "Weeknight Cooking" recipes and all 4 "Easy Sides"
-- a major "Weekend Cooking" project from Scott Conant: Roasted Porchetta (classic Italian rolled pork roast)
-- from Ina Garten's "Party Time" recipes, as noted above, the Thyme-Roasted Marcona Almonds and Sidecars with Dried Cherries

If that sounds like a month's worth o' good eatin' to you, well, now you know where you can find it.

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