Ok, I thought it could work. I really did. The combination of salty and sweet is one of those matches made in heaven that I really can’t imagine life without. So how could two of my favourite foods—chocolate (sweet) and bacon (salty)—not go together? Sigh.
Let me start from the beginning. I was sitting in my living room one afternoon with my ‘brainstorming’ notebook, trying to come up with the ideal Valentine’s Day treat. I managed to think up a few scrumptious appetizer and entrée ideas which I still might make when the 14th rolls around. Artichoke-stuffed this, prosciutto-wrapped that. But after an hour or so of jotting down gourmet meal ideas I got fed up. Why am I trying so hard to devise an elaborate romantic meal when I should be thinking simple? Valentine’s Day shouldn’t be about trying so hard. It should be about love.
With that clever self-help-book-worthy tidbit in mind I flipped to a fresh page in my notebook and started over. “Bacon,” I wrote. “Chocolate.” I underlined them both.
Bacon and chocolate. Chocolate and bacon. If Valentine’s Day is supposed to be about love, and I happen to love both bacon and chocolate, then why not create some sort of recipe that combines them? In my mind this was the most logical thing I could possibly do. Never mind that V-day is about love between two people. I set out to buy groceries 10 minutes later.
Instead of trudging home with my reusable shopping bag brimming with crazy ingredients as per usual, my floppy little cloth bag contained just three things that day: a package of Maple Leaf centre-cut bacon, a bar of dark chocolate and some English muffins. The latter is unrelated to this story.
I couldn’t wait to get started on my bacon-meets-chocolate experiment. In recent months odd couples like chocolate-covered potato chips, ice cream sprinkled with bacon and sea salt-spiked chocolate have caught my eye and sparked my interest. I did some research on the gustatory system for a side project a few months ago and found that the tongue really likes balance. Taking a cue from one of my wine pairing books, the best flavour combinations arise when there is some sort of contrast: fatty vs. acidic, salty vs. sweet, sweet vs. sour. I thought the saltiness of the bacon would be a nice match for the sweetness of the chocolate. But what I didn’t think of at the time is that bacon also has a smoky flavour (duh) and that dark chocolate is quite bitter (again, duh). And both foods consist of a fatty base that solidifies at room temperature.
So I happily fried up some strips of bacon, melted a few squares of chocolate in a tiny bowl in the microwave and laid out a piece of waxed paper. When the bacon was crispy and the chocolate gooey I proceeded to drizzle each bacon strip with the melted chocolate. I then placed the chocolate-coated bacon in the fridge to harden and went about my day (after all that spoon licking I was pretty full so didn’t feel an immediate urge to taste my unique creation).
When the inevitable salty-sweet craving struck later that day I eagerly took the bacon out of the refrigerator. I bit off a good-sized chunk and chewed it, surprised by the lack of saltiness of the bacon, the jarring bitterness of the chocolate and the overall unpleasant fattiness of the two (which had apparently multiplied when forced to become one). I was more than disappointed because I actually like the bitter taste of dark chocolate on its own and can’t get enough of the fattiness of bacon by itself. The whole thing was just unfortunate.
So after all that, not only do I not have a cool snack idea for Valentine’s Day, but I put so much effort into my bacon/chocolate experiment that I forgot to go out and buy my boyfriend a card! Oh well…I never really liked Valentine’s Day anyway.