I’ve been (mostly) vegan now for two and a half years. I get asked all the time “don’t you miss meat?”. No, I honestly don’t. Though I do miss some of the flavorings. Take bacon, for example. My craving isn’t for the actual limp, greasy bacon. It is for something crispy and smoky to put on toasted bread with my beefsteak tomato and lettuce. There are some acceptable alternatives (my usual preference from the convenience food aisle is for SmartBacon because it gets crispy) but none are so good that I won’t keep looking.
In fact, prior to going vegan, bacon was one of my favorite foods. My husband likes to remind me that on a trip to Chicago, I made him rent a car, leave the miracle mile, and drive into the suburbs to eat at Walker Brothers, a place famous for apple pancakes and thick sliced bacon. I remember one particularly convincing review said “if you visit Chicago and you don’t go to Walker Brothers, you will regret it for the rest of your life.” Now, I don’t think I would spend much time regretting one meal. Of course, I did go so I can’t really speak for those who didn’t heed this advice. They may be having some sleepless nights.
Knowing all this, a friend forwarded me a recipe to make coconut bacon. Sounds crazy until you think it through. Coconut is fibrous and fatty and can be cut into large flakes similar to real crumbled bacon. This bacon alternative gets some really good reviews. I’m going to try it as soon as I make it to the store to find some big flake coconut. (Most of the garden variety coconut flakes are very small.) Also, the post contains a link to the Royal Bacon Society, a group that apparently exists to promote all things bacon. I checked it out expecting to find a whole slew of snarky comments about their only vegan bacon option but was pleasantly surprised. The recipe for coconut bacon was presented as a reasonable alternative among all the animal-based craziness. (Their store sells bacon flavored envelopes and a bacon watch with streaks of fat on the wristband.)
I’m cynical enough to wonder what Big Food Company is behind the Royal Bacon Society. Pretending, of course, to be just some regular folks who love bacon enough to spend time developing and hosting a pretty professional looking website. They are even declaring September 3, 2011 as International Bacon Day. I doubt there is anything “Royal” about this group of bacon freaks but do appreciate that they even included a vegan choice.
The coconut bacon craze seems to have started in part due to a restaurant in Montreal, Aux Vivres. Their smoked coconut BLT chapati wrap gets consistently fantastic reviews. My French is limited to a couple years in high school (and one glorious week in Paris!) so “aux vivres” would be most often translated as ”to life” but I’m told it really is closer to “at the place where you get the food that is necessary”. Any way, if I can replicate their praise-worthy sandwich, my husband will be spared another road trip (after all, we are an easy drive from Montreal) in search of (vegan) bacon. The photo above is of their BLT wrap.
So, I will be on the lookout for large flake coconut to try this latest find. With some liquid smoke, maple syrup, and tamari (soy sauce) it looks promising in the smoky-flavor department. As long as it gets crispy, I may have a winner. Stay tuned.