Over the course of our lives, we become embroiled in many arguments and debates. These ‘tete-a-tete’s’ aren’t such a bad thing though, as they help us to form our opinions, mould our perspectives and shape our lives. Further still, quite often the best and most productive deliberations are usually held in pubs, where after a pint or three, soul searching questions get asked. Questions such as ‘Can dogs look up?’, ‘Are tattooed eyebrows a good idea’? and ‘Should pineapple ever go on pizza?’
All of these debates serve a purpose and the great thing about these sort of disputes is that someone is usually always wrong, and never right.
With that in mind, we’d like to present the recent findings of our ‘Great British Sandwich Debate’ that we held recently on social media; over on Twitter and on Facebook too. Given the nature of the subject, it probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise that many people fostered some very strong feelings about how a bacon sandwich should be made. Some people even wrote essays.
But to give you an idea, here’s a list of the criteria or talking points that we wanted to raise:
Back or streaky?
Brown or red Sauce?
Crispy or underdone?
White vs brown bread?
And so, without further ado, here are our findings:
Back or streaky?
Well, by and large, it seems that a lot of you are quite happy with whatever shape or form your bacon comes in, so long as it is bacon. But - it must be smoked; out of the hundreds of responses, not one person stated a solid preference for unsmoked.
What we found even more interesting though, is that some people favoured a combination of both streaky and back, together - quite greedy but in a way quite practical, as it satisfies everyone’s needs.
Additional ingredients also cropped up; a fried egg here, a scattering of fried mushroom there, een watercress was mentioned at some point. That being said though, some people went a bit too far and suggested that it was entirely feasible to squash a whole English breakfast in between two slices of bread - to which we say NON!
Brown or red?
Now this was a very contentious area. We ourselves got off to the wrong start by displaying a bacon sanger with Tommy K oozing all over the place. ‘NON!’ said Chris Pople (for everyone also turned distinctly French for the occasion) and so began the righteous vengeance and striking down with furious anger.
To be fair, most of the support did come out for HP sauce or braaaan sawce (red sauce should be reserved for chips, according to some people), however a few rebellious suggestions did slip through the net. Mustard for instance, was a must, for impressing your tastebuds and the love of your life. BBQ, horseradish and bacon jam was also mentioned. Marmalade too but they were soon laughed out of court. Then, some god amongst men mentioned garlic sauce and everyone previously furious at the thought of anything other than brown or red was suddenly set adrift at sea. You could almost hear them think – ‘Hmm, that’s a not a bad call.’
Crispy or underdone?
At first, this probably sounds bizarre.
After all, who in their right mind is going to go for underdone bacon? But this concept was brought to the fore by Mat, the ‘&’ in Turner & George, as his dear ol’ Dad often states a preference for rubbery slices, set betwixt bread. In the wider sphere, this was also touched upon and it was curious to see that some folk really did keep a close eye on the doneness of their bacon. ‘Cooked just enough so that the fat renders out but not too much as to crisp and harden either,’ came just one of the quotes, which is impressive. Most bacon sandwiches are eaten in lieu of a stonking hangover, where there is no refinery or thought for any cooking. It’s normally just wham, bam, slam it under the grill and thank you, Ma’am. But some people do care, or so it seems.
White vs brown bread?
If there was a subject that was going to evenly split our audience down the line, it had to be the dual approach of whether to use white or brown bread. Although it must be said, things fragmented even beyond that. For one camp, the bread had to be as white and cheap and processed as humanly possible, yet for the next, it had to be naturally leavened sourdough darling, and nothing else. The health conscious went for brown, those with digestive issues wanted more, singing for rye, spelt and granary to marry up with their bacon, and then came the Scottish rolls, bloomers, crusty baps, muffins, crumpets and the many different ways to cut up your sandwiches. The vehicle to carry your slices of cured pork was blown asunder by everyone’s varying opinions and trying to coral all the information together was akin to that of a small kitten wrestling with a ball of wool. And losing.
Creativity and bacon goes hand in hand, or so it seems, and special mention must go to Dave Ahern aka Cork Gourmet Guy for this suggestion – ‘Salmon cured to taste like bacon, butter made from lettuce and smoked tomatoes, white bread, toasted on one side.’ Whilst all of that does indeed take us beyond the boundaries but he still must get a yellow card, we fear. Because after all, bacon is bacon. Other novel approaches came in the form of bacon ‘Reubens’ where the sandwich could also be loaded with pickles and molten cheese. Elizabeth Haigh, one of our favourite chefs, also popped her head over the parapet, saying that she likes nothing but Iberico pork fat in between thick slices of white bread. Hmmmmm. But then again, that is not really bacon, is it Elizabeth…*stares*
Of course, some people will always cross over the line. When it comes to serious debate, you will always get some flippant, flash Harry, who likes to stir things up. To save embarrassment, those who uttered the following shall remain anonymous but be warned, we’ve got our beady eyes on you:
‘Bacon wrapped in Yorkshire pudding and slathered with gravy.’
‘Served with scotch bonnet chilli jam with butter in a crusty roll and slices of red onion.’
‘Smoked streaky, toasted white bread, butter, ketchup.’
The latter of which, OK, isn’t totally abhorrent (cough, Jess of T&G, cough). Personally, I just think that toast should be reserved for toast and that soft white bread is the absolute basic requirement.
But the biggest dirty bird on the block, the one that we should all utter naughty word towards, must be the person who likes to whack avocado in with their bacon sandwich. To which we offer a triple ‘NON!’ and at least 12 red cards. You know who you are.
Thankfully, the one thing that was pretty much consistent throughout the whole debate, was the fact that for that perfect flavour, bacon should come from traditional breed, high welfare and therefore happy pigs.
I think we can all agree with that sentiment.
Danny Kingston, Content Editor