Canadian Bacon

February 4, 2008 at 1:06 am 9 comments

The following questions have been asked by a reader of Canadian Fermentation: What is Canadian Bacon? Do Canadians call it Canadian Bacon or something else? Why does Canadin Bacon exist? Is it some kind of conspiracy? What are the origins of this mysterious food? Is Canadian Bacon haunted? If so, can an exorcism be performed to relieve the food of the spirit? What alcoholic beverage goes best with Canadian Bacon? How does Canadian Bacon relate to Canadian Fermentation? Why is Canadian Bacon so important to the World Economy?

Good questions, Amelie, although some of the questions make me question your sanity.

First off, Canadians don’t refer to this product as Canadian Bacon. In Canada it is referred to as Back Bacon or Peameal.

Above are two pictures representing the two types of bacon. As you can see the two items look different. Regular bacon — which we also eat in Canada — is sliced into thin strips. Canadian bacon is presented in wider, rounder slices. Fun game: guess which picture is Canadian Bacon.

I’m not a huge eater of bacon, I like both types, but I just don’t eat either very often. Canadian bacon tends to be more ‘sweet’ and ‘juicy’ in taste and texture. Regular bacon tends to be drier and you can eat it crispy. I can’t remember ever coming across crispy back bacon.

As can be seen above, you can use regular bacon to make a face out of your breakfast. This is not possible with Canadian Bacon.

Canadian Bacon is also the name of a 1995 movie. A Hollywood movie, actually. Directed by the infamous Michael Moore. It’s been a while since I’ve watched the movie, and I don’t think it was great, but I do believe it is better than most people give it credit. I think most people mistake it as laughing at Canada, whereas it’s more of a critique about American perceptions of Canada and Canadians.

My favorite scene from the movie was when the character played by John Candy (ironically playing an loud-mouthed American when he’s actually Canadian), running around Toronto and pushing Canadians out of the way. The American character doesn’t say ‘excuse me’ of course, but all the Canadians being pushed out of the way apologize for being in the way. It’s funny because it’s true.

Having lived on both sides of the border I can honestly say that the scene is pretty accurate, and a good statement on both cultures. As Canadians, a general rule is that we will apologize even when it’s someone else’s doing/fault. It’s an automatic reaction to the situation. Americans don’t do this. If an American is pushed out of the way, they will take on a more combative posture and expect an apology.

So, to sum up, Canadian Bacon, better known as Back Bacon, is better than regular bacon. ‘Canadian Bacon’ the movie is better than most people give it credit. Bacon is made from pigs. Pigs are mammals. Pigs will eat bacon if you feed it to them, which is really pretty gross when you think about it.


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9 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Amelie  |  February 4, 2008 at 1:52 am

    1. “As can be seen above, you can use regular bacon to make a face out of your breakfast. This is not possible with Canadian Bacon” made me ACTUALLY “lol” .

    2. I *toiled* over which sort-of-square-shaped plate to get for a good 40 minutes. One had slightly rounded square edges, the other had straight square edges. I only gave up and made a decision after the manage walked by 7 times and finally asked me if I needed help.


  • 2. daranee  |  February 4, 2008 at 2:02 am

    So back bacon, is that anything like the bacon they serve in Britain? Because what I think of as Canadian Bacon is nothing like British bacon.

  • 3. C. Fraser  |  February 4, 2008 at 2:53 am

    Amelie: Glad you liked the line. Don’t tell anyone else, but it’s my favorite line too.

    Daranee: I’ve actually been to Scotland and have had their breakfasts (talk about a protein-fest!). Unfortunately I can’t remember it well enough to compare to back bacon. And, like I mentioned, bacon as a whole isn’t one of my major food consumptions, so it’s not something on the tip of my consciousness. Sorry.

  • 4. paulmct  |  February 5, 2008 at 8:41 am

    I like the John Candy on the run scene, too. It’s true, in a way. The apologizing when someone bumps into you thing works kind of like no fault insurance, I think. To avoid a disagreement or argument, both give the other the benefit of the doubt and both apologize. I’ve seen it many times, but more in the past than now. Maybe we’re starting to becoming a bit more grouchy.

    Square plates?

    As far as I can tell, Canadian bacon is the large, roughly oval shaped area on a British rasher. Or, when you take the long, streaky, fatty part off of one side of the rasher, what’s left is roughly Canadian bacon. A complete rasher is Canadian (back) plus regular bacon.

  • 5. C. Fraser  |  February 5, 2008 at 4:09 pm

    Paulmct: Thanks for your response! Yes, I find it difficult to remember real spelling of words, as I had to adapt while living in the foreign confines of the U.S.A. I’ve never been a world-class speller in the first place and having to remember the slight differences in regional usage has made the situation even more dicey.

    Thanks for the clarification of bacon as well!

    And I think your analogy of the ‘no fault insurance’ is funny, and accurate too. Truly a Canadian achievement!

  • 6. daranee  |  February 6, 2008 at 3:11 am

    Thanks Paulmct. Now I know. Given that it is the round part of a rasher, I would say what Americans call Canadian bacon is a bit of a misnomer. More inspired by back bacon in Canada rather than a copy.

  • 7. paulmct  |  February 9, 2008 at 10:19 pm

    Another Canadian achievement. Aren’t we great?

    No probs on helping to solve the great bacon mystery. Who’da thought that observation would have come in handy one day?

  • 8. r00m23  |  April 10, 2008 at 12:29 am

    Umm, did you forget to awnsure the questions? (I think you barley tuched on what it is, and you nailed “Do Canadians call it Canadian Bacon” but what about the other questions) I have another one, Why is it called Canadian Bacon?

    Some possibilities: Is it that it was first made in Canada as “just Bacon” then ppls who moved south saw the US had a different type of “just bacon” so the “just bacon” of Canada became Canadian bacon. Or was it a derivative product. (like a taco at taco-bell is an americanized version of the mexcian taco) or was some one just being silly at a pizza shop and desided to call his new toping Canadian bacon?

  • 9. Melissa Lackey (@meissalackey)  |  August 25, 2011 at 9:33 pm

    I’m a vegtarian. thats all i feel like saying right now. gnight everyone:D


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