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My comfort food

In to the Wind

March 6, 2012
By Mike Gilchrist , Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

What is a comfort?

n. A state of quiet enjoyment; freedom from pain, want, or anxiety; also, whatever contributes to such a condition.

What is comfort food?

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Comfort food is any food that has nostalgic or sentimental appeal. Comfort foods may have an appeal to the individual, or to a specific culture. Comfort foods allow us to relax and de-stress. Comfort foods can make us feel safe, or pique those pleasure sensors in out brain leading to a sense of wellbeing.

It has been said there is nothing more American than apple pie. Yes, apple pie is a comfort food to many.

Even thought my dad is not particularly fond of green bean casserole, to the rest of the family Thanksgiving dinner is not complete without the iconic baked dish. This qualifies it as a comfort food in that it settles by eliciting feelings of continuity and thoughts of Thanksgiving past.

To kids, macaroni and cheese is a comfort food. Hotdogs, hamburgers, or peanut butter and jelly are all comfort foods to many.

When you were sick, did mom give you chicken and noodle soup? Comfort food.

Our route to indulgence is disparate and circuitous. What some may find passion for I may not like and vice versa. There is however one particular culinary treat lots of people are fond of, yours truly included.

I have to admit to a love affair with a certain universally known comfort food. It starts with b, and ends with n. My favorite way to take it is with eggs over easy, and very wet toast.

It's the sort of comfort food you just know you shouldn't eat, but do anyway. The love of bacon transcends all socioeconomic classes. The love of bacon transcends common sense and takes the eater into ethereal realms.

Canadians call American bacon "strip bacon" and they call Canadian bacon "back bacon" or "peameal bacon." In my book, Canadian bacon does not qualify as a comfort food; it's something you only have on eggs Benedict, or sometimes pizza.

In England, a side of bacon is called a gammon, and a slice of bacon is known as a rasher.

Seventy percent of the bacon in America is consumed at the breakfast table, but times are changing.

Bacon and bacon bits are finding their way into other comfort foods. Does this make the comfort food more comfortable? I believe so. Those with discriminating pallets can find for sale bacon cheddar popcorn, bacon ice cream, maple bacon lollipops, bacon chocolate bars, bacon gumballs, and bacon wrapped hotdogs. I want to try ALL of these.

According to the USDA, the United States accounts for 10% of global bacon production, making it the world's third largest bacon producer, behind China (46%) and the European Union (24%). Together with Viet Nam and Brazil, these top five pork producers account for 87% of the global bacon supply.

The USDA also claims that lower income households report more pork consumption that upper or middle class households.

Bacon, bacon, bacon! It's entered out lives, and our vernacular.

You might be familiar with the term, "bring home the bacon." It doesn't mean making money either.

At a small church in the English town of Dunmow, local lore has it that in the twelfth century, married men were offered a side of bacon if they swore they hadn't quarreled with their wife for a year and a day. So a man who could bring home the bacon was held in high esteem by the congregation, and we would hope, his wife.

There is an ad on television for bacon in a new re-sealable package. We all know nobody reseals a package of bacon! Every time I see that ad, I giggle.

"I'd rather be shut up in a very modest cottage with my books, my family and a few old friends, dining on simple bacon, and letting the world roll on as it liked, than to occupy the most splendid post, which any human power can give." Thomas Jefferson

I knew there was a reason besides his wisdom that I like Jefferson!

Life expectancy would grow by leaps and bounds if green vegetables smelled as good as bacon. ~ Doug Larson, Olympic runner

My kitchen reeks of bacon, and remorse.

Until next time--

You can read past columns by visiting and clicking on the "Local Columns" button at the bottom of the page.

In to the Wind and this column are copyright 2012 Mike Gilchrist. Readers, feel free to contact me at via email, or write to me at P.O. Box 255, Toledo, IA 52342.



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