Bacon and Chocolate: The Backstory

schneider june25 bacongraph post.jpg

Photo by professor evil/Flickr CC


To me, the most interesting side of any compelling ingredient or food product, aside from deliciousness, is the backstory: How it came to be. How did David Chang devise his great pork belly buns? How did egg creams happen? Invariably, the backstory is full of twists and turns and free associations that are especially inspiring to cooks who like to push the envelope themselves.

I found a really good backstory on the box of Mo's Bacon Bar, a 41 percent milk chocolate bar laced with the unlikely combination of applewood smoked bacon and Alderwood smoked salt. It is at once delicious, satisfying, and odd, and it rides the recent crest of baconmania. Katrina Markoff, owner and chocolatier of Vosges, a line of exotically flavored chocolate, describes the roots of her salt-sweet-smoke theme in her childhood:

I began experimenting with bacon and chocolate at the tender age of 6, while eating chocolate chip pancakes drenched in Aunt Jemima syrup, as children often do. Beside my chocolate-laden cakes laid three strips of sizzlin' bacon, just barely touching a sweet pool of maple syrup. And then, the magic--just a bite of the bacon was too salty and I yearned for the sweet kiss of chocolate and syrup, so I combined the two.

In retrospect, perhaps this was a turning point; for on that plate something magical happened, the beginnings of a combination so ethereal and delicious that it would haunt my thoughts until I found the medium to express it -- chocolate.

I'd say, from the picture on her website. [Curator's note: In a yet better backstory even Sally didn't know, the eponymous Mo is Mo of Ann Arbor, Michigan, the same legendary city of our Behind the Counter locale. A great collaboration, and you can order the bar here.]

There was a good twenty years from this childhood anchoring of a taste memory to it's fulfillment in Mo's Bacon Bar: an inspiring reminder about the slow, mysterious routes of inspiration.

Presented by

Sally Schneider writes The Improvised Life, a lifestyle blog about improvising as a daily practice. Her cookbook The Improvisational Cook is now out in paperback. More

Sally Schneider is the founder of The Improvised Life, a lifestyle blog that inspires you to devise, invent, create, make it up as you go along, from design and cooking to cultivating the creative spirit. It's been called a "zeitgeist-perfect website." She is a regular contributor to public radio's The Splendid Table and the author of the best-selling cookbooks The Improvisational Cook and A New Way to Cook, which was recently named one of the best books of the decade by The Guardian. She has won numerous awards, including four James Beard awards, for her books and magazine writing.

Sally has worked as a journalist, editor, stylist, lecturer, restaurant chef, teacher, and small-space consultant, and once wrangled 600 live snails for the photographer Irving Penn. Her varied work has been the laboratory for the themes she writes and lectures about: improvising as an essential operating principle; cultivating resourcefulness and your inner artist; design, style, and food; and anything that is cost-effective, resourceful, and outside the box.

Saving the Bees

Honeybees contribute more than $15 billion to the U.S. economy. A short documentary considers how desperate beekeepers are trying to keep their hives alive.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well.

Video

Before Tinder, a Tree

Looking for your soulmate? Write a letter to the "Bridegroom's Oak" in Germany.

Video

The Health Benefits of Going Outside

People spend too much time indoors. One solution: ecotherapy.

Video

Where High Tech Meets the 1950s

Why did Green Bank, West Virginia, ban wireless signals? For science.

Video

Yes, Quidditch Is Real

How J.K. Rowling's magical sport spread from Hogwarts to college campuses

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

More in Health

From This Author

Just In