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Bacon Bits
Bacon bits are the ultimate sinless treat. Hooray for textured vegetable protein (soy flour, caramel color, red 3, yellow 6). Huzzah for wheat-gluten protein. Yippee for autolyzed yeast, whatever that is.

Welcome to the world of analog foods. Bacon bits are derived from one substance—products of vegetables and grains—and made to resemble another, in this case crispy bits of bacon. They have almost no fat (polyunsaturated or otherwise), no cholesterol, and aren’t a significant source of fiber, calcium or vitamins. It’s like eating Styrofoam chips with a dash of salt and that wonderful artificially added smoky flavour.

Whatever bacon bits are (chez nous they’re called fako bacos), we know for sure that they are not bacon. Most brands are certified as a kosher food product. We live dangerously. We defy the almighty (doctor, deity, etc.) We eat bacon bits.

A handful (one brand suggests 13 of the little nuggets to the serving) has about 30 calories. But who eats them by the handful? This isn’t real food. It’s a condiment. We sprinkle them everywhere: in salad dressings and on salads, baked potatoes, scrambled eggs, vegetable dips, soups. Pizza Hut offers it as an alternative topping.

Here is a bacon bit recipe that takes this treat to another dimension. It is based on the famous Elvis Presley sandwich which I have never had the courage to eat but which I am told was made with white bread, mayonnaise, peanut butter, bacon and ketchup. Here’s a Montreal version:

Split one warm sesame seed bagel. Lightly butter both halves. Slather one side with peanut butter. Cover this with a thick layer of bacon bits and a dash of ketchup. The ketchup is the big surprise. The sweetness compliments the smoke. The tomato marries well with the taste of bacon. The flavours meld wonderfully, not unlike some Thai dishes that combine sweet with sour, and add crispy bits to offset the unctuous. The King would have loved it.

© Barry Lazar 2000 Email Flavourguy

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