This week, in a story titled "United Steaks of America," Slate assistant editor L.V. Anderson posed (and answered) the question: "If every state had an official meat, what would it be?"
And while Tennessee gets knocked a lot in the national media (see: guns/education/health/meth/crackpot legislators), Anderson bestows us with perhaps the greatest meat honor of all:
Yes, I know, you all want bacon to be your state meat — but only one state could get it, and that state had to be Tennessee. After all, Tennessee is home to Benton’s, widely regarded to be the best bacon producer in the country. Or, as one food writer put it, “Allan Benton is the rock star of American bacon.”
Yes, Benton's is great, and I do enjoy a slice or seven from time to time. But frankly, it's not my fave. I prefer some of the bacon I get from Porter Road Butcher (they have several varieties), and also Nueske's from (gasp!) Wisconsin. I get that the absurd sodium level is part of Benton's charm, but I don't think bacon needs quite that much salt to be excellent. In fact, I think it overwhelms the flavor. I feel that both it's thickness and saltiness overwhelm, for instance, a BLT or a bacon burger. That said, Benton's makes fabulous lardons. And dipped in a little maple syrup, it can just about make you lose your mind.
What about y'all? Who makes your favorite bacon? And for you vegetarians, what is your favorite bacon not to eat?
What else is new?