Camp Bacon Reflections

June 2nd, 2012. 4:25 pm.

Camp Bacon has just ended.

My clothes, my hair, even my skin are inundated with the smoky, rich scent of campfire and cured meat. Later this evening, I will almost regret showering, as though by washing off the aroma (stink?) I am washing away part of the experience.

My belly is uncomfortably, but happily, full of pork belly. Camp Bacon has lived up to its name: there were bacon scones, bacon coffeecakes, bacon in scrambled eggs with oysters, bacon pimento cheese, bacon baked into waffles, bacon lettuce and tomato sandwiches. Then there was the hunk of bacon, as large as a small remote control, that I skewered with a long, pointy stick and roasted over an open fire, hot dog style. Plus, of course, the thirteen samples of different bacons that were served throughout the day, between meals.

In my mind, I relive the day in stories, flavors, moments. The twinkle in Allan Benton’s eye, and his sincere gratitude and enthusiasm as he recounts his path to curing country hams and bacons. The way the exceptional La Quercia Tamworth bacon all but melts into a smoky, salty, savory puddle on my tongue. The obvious pride in Ronny Drennan’s voice as he tells us about his Kentucky State Fair championship ham that was auctioned off for charity for $1.6 million. The ashy, liquid fat that drips from my skewered hunk of bacon and sizzles down the bowl of the black cauldron holding the campfire.

I am elated. I’m not sure I’ve ever spent a day in happier company. You can’t be sad while you’re surrounded by happy people, all eating and talking about artisan bacons together. You just can’t.

Camp Bacon has just ended, and like it says on the back of the t-shirt, “I never want to go home!”

Zingerman’s Camp Bacon is a long weekend of bacon-related celebration. The main event is an informal “conference” that unites bacon makers, bacon experts, and bacon lovers for a day of learning, storytelling, and of course eating, all focused on some of the best artisan bacons available today.