All About The “Applewood”

Recently Kish and I went to a brunch buffet.  One of the heated chafing dishes held “applewood smoked bacon.”  Last week when I went out to lunch, my cheeseburger was topped with “applewood smoked bacon.”

IMG_1086“Applewood,” “smoked,” and “bacon” have become inextricably linked.  No one has plain old Oscar Mayer anymore.  No, it has to be “applewood smoked bacon.”  It’s become as ubiquitous on restaurant menus as quinoa and kale.

The prevalence of applewood on our menus, adding just the right smoky flavor to our favorite fatty meat, raises questions.  First, why is it called “applewood” instead of just “apple”?  It’s the wood from the apple tree, sure, but nobody calls the wood from the pine tree “pinewood” or the wood from the oak tree “oakwood.”  “Applewood” sounds like a made-up word that was invented precisely because a focus group decided it sounded upscale and would appeal to restaurant goers.

Second, exactly how much “applewood” is there?  Americans consume a lot of bacon, all of which apparently must now be smoked with “applewood.”  I’m concerned that Johnny Appleseed’s hard work is being chopped down and our national strategic reserve of apple trees is being devastated by our ravenous demand for “applewood.”  This is another good reason to support the efforts of “Emily Appleseed.”

I’m as big a fan of bacon as anyone, but I’d like to save a few apple trees for the next generation.  I’d be perfectly fine if my next rasher were smoked with “cherrywood,” or “peachwood,” or even “orangewood.”  Heck, I’d even make the ultimate sacrifice and settle for sowbelly in its plain, unadorned state.

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Bye-Bye, Bacon

At dinner tonight, a friend mentioned that  a world-wide bacon shortage is in the offing.  An unfortunate and tasteless jest, I thought — but it turns out to be true.

That’s right: the British National Pig Association is forecasting a world-wide shortage of pork and bacon next year.  They attribute the lack of porcine product and the declining numbers of swine to the increased cost of maize and soya and the other foodstuffs that allow cute little piglets to grow up to be huge, beautiful, bacon-larded hogs.

Horrors!  We’ve put up with a lot in this country:  high unemployment, a crappy economy, even Emmy Awards being presented to shows that no one has ever heard of.  But . . . a bacon shortage???  Isn’t that asking a lot of mainstream America?  How are we going to have state and country fairs without bacon to contribute to deep-fried bacon, chocolate-covered bacon, and bacon ice cream?  What are we supposed to eat for breakfast?  What other foodstuff tastes as succulent wrapped around a scallop, served with scrambled eggs, or covered with brown sugar?

Forget about investing in gold, silver, or other precious metals — it’s time for the savvy investor to go long, long, long in pork bellies.  America runs on bacon!