Let me start out by declaring what meat eaters already know: bacon is magnificent. I bought bacon from Real Foods Market, a store with meat from a local farm. The bacon wasn't typical bacon, in that it wasn't cured. But even without the typical trappings of cured bacon, the bacon I ate was astoundingly delicious.
I recall from my pre-vegetarian life that I enjoyed bacon with maple syrup. At the time, I usually ate regular bacon with syrup that had nothing to do with maple trees, but instead was a maple-like (ish) derivative of corn and chemicals. By replacing the low-quality everyday bacon with high-quality uncured bacon, and by replacing the corn syrup concoction with pure maple syrup, my morning bacon became a flavor combination I looked forward to with mouthwatering relish.
Besides bacon, this week I made two French dishes, both with Italian meat from Tony Caputo's Market, a local Italian grocer. For pork I focused primarily on cured meats because a pork chop and other dishes just didn't sound appetizing. First on the menu was the famous quiche lorraine.
Using Julia Child's recipe, I knew I couldn't go wrong. However, somehow I managed to put the oven on the wrong temperature so what should have taken about 20 minutes to bake took about 35. No harm done, but boy the waiting was long.
I had interest in quiche lorraine because I love French things in general but had previously missed out on a lot of French cuisine because of my abstaining from meat. Quiche lorraine begins with a pastry crust and is filled with a layer of fried bacon followed by the egg and cream mixture. I added dandelion greens to my quiche because it just sounded good--and, it was. Quiche is a dish which for me is fun to make (who doesn't love rolling out a crust?), simple yet elegant, delicious, and filling. By using Italian pancetta, the abundant flavor combined my love of good tastes, Italian and French culture/food, and resulted in a dish that disappeared in mere minutes.
Keeping with my French theme, I also made croque madame, a dish that amounts to a grilled ham and cheese sandwich with a fried egg on top. But, being French it also requires a generous smear of béchamel sauce and sharp Gruyère cheese. I used prosciutto instead of French ham for the simple reason that Tony Caputo's is nearby, and Tony Caputo's is full of amazing food.
The béchamel sauce is a basic combination of milk, butter, nutmeg and salt. When heated and thickened, the sauce becomes a heavenly addition to the sandwich. The prosciutto, cheese, egg, and béchamel all work together on artisan sourdough to create the best sandwich I've ever had. When it comes to convincing vegetarians to eat meat, I'd say France wins.
All in all I enjoyed cured meats much more than I did chicken. Chicken I ate because I set out to do so, but bacon and ham were foods I ate with gusto. It also didn't hurt that I chose to eat such high-quality cured meats and used tried and true French recipes, French cuisine being one famous for its level of distinctive flavor and quality.
And that's the end for poooooork. (There's a little literary humor for you.)