One of the most alluring aromas I've known in my life is the smell of bacon frying in a skillet.
If you take in the pleasure of morning walk on a Sunday morning in any of the hundreds of thousands of hamlets and neighborhoods all over the world you may be caught in this porcine perfume.
It stirs emotions of such a primal nature; it is impossible not to, well... wallow in it.
Bacon is the salted and or smoked meat taken from the sides and back of pig. Only about 1/3 of a pig is butchered and sold fresh. The rest is turned into processed products such as bacon. Although it is possible to cure any cut of pork, the process is most frequently applied to the fatty belly, which produces bacon and salt pork, and to the hind legs, which produce hams.
Our forebears came up with these methods in that the pig was so prodigal. You couldn't possibly eat it all fresh. In the times that predate refrigeration and freezing, curing became a way to hold on to the meat for meals after the fresh meat was consumed. We have not given up the love of smoked and cured meats now that we don't actually need to do it. I think it's part of God's plan myself!
Bacon is rarely consumed by itself It is too much of a good thing in a sense. It's fatty, smoky meatiness calls for some bland richness, like potatoes, pancakes and eggs, some sweetness like orange juice, apple sauce or maple syrup, and even some bitterness like black coffee. Hey, sounds like breakfast is ready.
Enough walkin' around, I ready to get high on a hog.


Several years ago I was in New Orleans to deliver a speech to a few hundred professional chefs on New World Cuisine. In an effort to properly prepare myself mentally and spiritually for the task I booked an early brunch reservation with a few other chefs at the famed "Commander's Palace".
There's nothing like brunch at "Commander's" to banish any pre-speaking engagements butterflies to the wind. And there's no place quite like "Commander's" to tuck into a bowl of Gumbo. It was the Gumbo that is called "Gumbo Ya-Ya" that was on the menu that day. "Gumbo Ya-Ya" is a phrase that Cajuns use to describe of when everyone is talking all at once. Which after a glass of Champagne or two out there in the Garden in a ravishingly beautiful sunlit day we all were.
Gumbo comes from the African word 'ngumbo' which means okra. Now not all gumbos contain okra, but that matters little now. Words evolve.
Gumbo is a most hospitable dish to the cook in that allows for a very democratic opportunity to use up a variety of foodstuffs. Often a mix of poultry, pork sausages, shellfish, possibly rice and vegetables are involved with gumbo.
I like to make gumbo. It's a bit of a challenge in that involves making a roux. It is always a black roux that I make when we serve gumbo. It is a little like making a caramel sauce where you've got to have perfect timing or it will burn. But in making the roux it is easy to have the flour and hot oil spill on you. This is referred to in the jargon as "Cajun Napalm", in that it sinks right into your flesh with a punishing speed.
Tell you what, we'll make the gumbo.