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bacon-msg - 12/10/16


Medieval bacon.


NOTE: See also the files: pork-msg, ham-msg, cooking-oils-msg, butter-msg, larding-msg, p-pigs-msg, pig-to-sausag-art.





This file is a collection of various messages having a common theme that I have collected from my reading of the various computer networks. Some messages date back to 1989, some may be as recent as yesterday.


This file is part of a collection of files called Stefan's Florilegium. These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org


I have done a limited amount of editing. Messages having to do with separate topics were sometimes split into different files and sometimes extraneous information was removed. For instance, the message IDs were removed to save space and remove clutter.


The comments made in these messages are not necessarily my viewpoints. I make no claims as to the accuracy of the information given by the individual authors.


Please respect the time and efforts of those who have written these messages. The copyright status of these messages is unclear at this time. If information is published from these messages, please give credit to the originator(s).


Thank you,

   Mark S. Harris                  AKA:  THLord Stefan li Rous

                                         Stefan at florilegium.org



Date: Tue, 5 Oct 2004 11:12:19 -0400

From: "Phil Troy / G. Tacitus Adamantius"

        <adamantius.magister at verizon.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Real bacon

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>


Also sprach Sharon Gordon:

> Would people who have experience with real bacon (as different from the

> typical American breakfast slices or UK rashers of bacon) describe how it

> looks and tastes?  Also how does it differ in cooking?  If you wanted a

> butcher to give you some, how would you ask for it?


We may need to answer this in stages, with people throwing out sort

of feeler questions at various times to find out what you really want

to know, because I'm not sure what you mean by "real" in this case.


Originally, in English, bacon was virtually any cured hogmeat other

than ham. Today, what you see most often is streaky or belly bacon,

or back bacon, which comes from the loin of the hog. Then there's a

sort of grey area of cuts treated like ham but actually more like

bacon: things like Bath Chaps (essentially a hammish sort of thing

made from the boned-out jowl), etc.


The primary difference between the typical packaged, pre-sliced

American belly bacon and what I suspect you mean when you say its

"real" equivalent, is that the stuff in clear plastic packets with

the little window to show you the one viable streak of muscle meat in

it, is that water is added. This affects not only the weight, but

also the texture and its behavior in cooking. I'd suspect that the

really industrial/commercial stuff has more sugar in the cure, which,

when combined with the added water, leads to a greater amount of

sticky, burny juices in the bottom of your pan, the kind of thing

that can make it tough to fry eggs in the same pan ;-).


I would further say, speaking in my official capacity as Arbiter of

all things, that realness is not a function of the cut; you can get

good, slab bacon of the American sort (it may or may not have a rind

on it, and you may or may not choose to remove it, either before or

after slicing) at places like butcher shops, smokehouses, farmers'

markets, etc. It's called "slab bacon". Back bacon, the stuff made

from the loin, is sometimes known as English or Irish bacon,

especially when pre-sliced and packaged, but when whole, is often

called boiling bacon, because a common way to eat it is boiled with

cabbage or other greens (corned beef and cabbage is actually, I

understand, the American poor substitute).


Some butchers will also sell what they call cured or smoked pork

loin, which you can buy in a hunk by the pound, or have the butcher

slice to use as rashers.


Canadian Bacon, by the way, is supposed to be identical to back

bacon, until someone decided to cut off the best part of it and use

it for something else, leaving behind a nearly-fat-free eye of the

loin. In Canada, though, I believe this heresy is not practiced; it's

just "bacon", and functionally identical to belly or back bacon. I

guess it's like English Muffins in England: they do have them, but

don't bother calling them English. Duh! ;-)





Date: Wed, 10 Jun 2009 12:05:22 +0200

From: "Susanne Mayer" <susanne.mayer5 at chello.at>

Subject: [Sca-cooks] Bacon

To: <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>


I looked up the german Text, and also checked the other sausage recipes.

Speck/bacon in modern German is ususally smoked and salted bacon from

different parts of the pig like the belly (more fat, less meat) or made from

the roast (more meat and lean). Or white bacon which is like lardo only fat

(but it usually stated white bacon if it should be used).

If you use fresh pork belly you will get a different taste as the bacon does

impart a salty, lightly smoked flavor.

But it could also be green bacon: raw and not smoked.


So I would try it with different sorts and adjust it to my taste.


And I did find a modern version which resembles the welser recipe calling

either for bacon or belly and lean pork and lean beef.


500g pork 300g beef and 200g bacon or belly. Grobe Bauernbratwurst









Date: Thu, 05 Aug 2010 07:05:32 -0400

From: Johnna Holloway <johnnae at mac.com>

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] finding bacon recipes was bacon


It's pretty easy to find bacon recipes.


By going to www.medievalcookery.com and going to the Medieval Cookbook  

Search, you can easily search for a selection of bacon recipes from  

the indexed sources.


A search quickly turns up several.



You'll find recipes listed like:


This is an excerpt from A Book of Cookrye

(England, 1591)

The original source can be found at Mark and Jane Waks' website


Take your Bacon and boyle it, and stuffe it with Parcely and Sage, and  

yolks of hard Egges, and when it is boyled, stuffe it and let it boyle  

againe, season it with Pepper, cloves and mace, whole cloves stick  

fast in, so then lay it in your paste with salt butter.


Lots of German recipes





Date: Thu, 10 Feb 2011 18:42:07 +0100

From: "Susanne Mayer" <susanne.mayer5 at chello.at>

To: <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>

Subject: [Sca-cooks] Speck


Speck is generic for all sorts of bacon all from pigs: gru:ner Speck is

just salted and not smoked resembling pancetta (almost pure fat) and or

Lardo (pure fat), Speck made from the leg bones is resembling prosciutto,

here also the degrees of smoking varys and the "air-time" for drying the

smoked hams, bauchspeck is made from the sides and resembles berakfast bacon

but is smoked / cured. more  layers of fat and meat. Ossocollo is leg meat

deboned and "rolled" into a piece and then smoked and cured.

Kareespeck is made from the rib pieces, a bit of fat and much meat,...


This list is in no way complete,..., I am in the lucky position to have

relatives owning a farm and slaughtering their own pigs twice a Year for

smoked sausages, Salami, and all sorts of bacon,...


Regards Katharina



Date: Thu, 10 Feb 2011 14:16:42 -0800

From: K C Francis <katiracook at hotmail.com>

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Speck


I can get speck at my local Whole Foods.  I have it sliced very thin and serve as part of a cold plate.  I have also purchased it at AG Ferrari Foods for the same purpose.  It looks very like prosciutto.    Check out Google using images.





Date: Thu, 26 Jan 2012 06:43:53 -0800

From: "Laura C. Minnick" <lcm at jeffnet.org>

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Bacon news


On 1/26/2012 3:54 AM, Johnna Holloway wrote:

<<< In case you haven't heard the news, Bacon has a new or maybe it's just

a return to a former use.

"Laypeople have long known that bacon can cure innumerable ailments:

depression, unwanted thinness, tastelessness of lentil. And new

research suggests that the cured meat has medical applications that

have nothing to do with the heart and stomach. It seems that bacon --

used in a very unusual way -- is one of the best cures out there for a

bloody nose."




Johnnae >>>


Anthimus claims that the Franks eat bacon raw, and that accounts for

their good health.


No way could I choke it down raw. That must account for my condition.





Date: Thu, 9 Feb 2012 21:21:42 -0800 (PST)

From: Tre <trekatz at yahoo.com>

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Fwd: [Ansteorra] Fwd: Balson's Bangers at

        COSTCO!!     OT English bacon


Bacon here in Britain is generally "Back Bacon", which is the similar to "Canadian Bacon". You can get streaky bacon over here, but it doesn't seem quite the same. The flavor is different than ham, but a lightly smoked ham might work as a substitute as someone else suggested. A better substitute would be if you could get Canadian Bacon.


Also, you can buy back bacon either smoked or unsmoked. I don't know how much of a difference the smoked flavor would make in your recipes.



(an American currently living in Britain.)



From the FB " Medieval & Renaissance Cooking and Recipes" group on 11/12/13


Katayoun Al-Aurvataspa

Bacon in period is roughly any piece of pork cured in salt, though unsmoked. It's virtually interchangeable with cured ham. Let me see if I can find documentation.


Archena T Nighthawk

If I recall correctly 'bacon' (bakken, bacoun, tomato, tomahto...) in period simply meant pork regardless of how it was prepared or preserved.


Tomas De Montroig

If we look at the words from the Catalan, Occitan, Spanish and Ligurian Italian, the words translated by modern translators as 'bacon', most often, literallly translate as "salt meat" (e.g., "carn salada" - salted meat). This does not require that it be pork. In fact, the word "carn" (cran, carne, etc.) was used indiscriminately to refer to a variety (cook's choice) of meat and game. So, a more literal translation as "salt meat" might be closer to the truth.


The modern choice of translated word being "bacon" may, in fact, be misleading, at least in some cultures and languages. The evolution, even within the original language, doesn't necessarily require that the medieval connotation match the modern. There were words for each specific meat used in the same manuscripts, and they could easily have been specified if a particular meat was intended (e.g., porc salada, bo salada, vedel salada, etc.).


As with most things, "in period", particularly where language is concerned, needs to be nailed down to place, time and culture for context. In my case, I'm referring to the context in northern Spain, Catalunya, southern France, and northern Italy from the early 14th century to the early-to-mid 15th century.


Archena T Nighthawk

I have a period German recipe that calls for bacon - but I got it from a historic cooking show so I don't know its original source. The stuff is danged good, however!


Urtatim Al-Qurtubiyya

In some medieval French recipes i've seen "lardon" translated into English variously as "lard" or as "bacon". However modern lardon are neither & to the best of my knowledge period lardon were similar to modern lardon. Lardon is unrendered pork fat often with layers of meat still in it.


Archena T Nighthawk

Lardon would be my guess for period bacon... Remember gang 'bacon' varies in modern times, too. What Americans consider bacon is off the opposite side of the carcass from what the British consider bacon. Then there are the Canadians...

2 minutes ago ยท Like


Urtatim Al-Qurtubiyya

The problem i find is that often a word that is not "bacon" in the original is translated as "bacon" in US editions, yet it is definitely not smoked and sugared as US bacon is.


Karen LM

5:34pm Nov 12

Those of us stuck reading translations have to pay attention and figure if the dish is meant to be flavored with the cured pork, or if it is meant to be a dish of cured pork. In the first case, salt pork or ham hocks as can be bought in the South might be a better ingredient choice. Or unsliced bacon if you can find it. Or lardon. In other cases, ham, particularly if you can afford dry cured ham instead of bribe cured or bribe injected.


I never assume the translator had a clue about cooking in general, or medieval food in particular. I try to imagine the results, and compare to other period recipes if i can, and modern sometimes.


if the ingredients, by modern definition, wont taste good cooked the way they describe, then the ingredient or the method needs adjusting. boiled rashers of modern bacon are very unyummy, for example, so i would think in terms of hunks of some sort of cured meat instead. Because a boiled lump of not-American-bacon can be yummy.



From: "Terry Decker" <t.d.decker at att.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Sent Sovi Translation

Date: April 15, 2014 9:04:38 PM CDT

To: "Cooks within the SCA" <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>


Not a thing.  "Cansalada" is cuts from the back, belly or side of the hog which are then packed in salt.  The same cuts are used to make bacon, but bacon is usually brined (rather than packed in salt) to produce "green bacon" then commonly boiled or smoked to produce the final product.  Even if left as "green bacon" the brining process for bacon in the U.S. contains preservatives other than salt.  Thus the closest American English definition to the Catalan usage is salt pork.




On 16/04/2014 9:09 a.m., JIMCHEVAL at aol.com wrote:

I understand. I still doubt it's that straightforward.

Take "carnsalada". Very literally it means "salted meat", In context, it's used virtually as bacon is in other medieval texts and is even referred to as  "lean" or "fat". Should one then translate it as "bacon"?


It helps to do at least a little research on the term (which mainly occurs in old Catalan and Provencal documents), by which one finds that it is now referred to as "cansalada" and is a form of salted pork fatback:


So, what's wrong with "salt pork"?


Antonia di Benedetto Calvo



From the fb "SCA Cooks" group:

Leoba Mordenvale

If you have access to Cato's "On Farming," it has the method for salting and smoking pork to produce bacon.




Date: Sat, 12 Nov 2016 02:12:02 -0500

From: JIMCHEVAL at aol.com

To: sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] bacon, lardo etc


In French at least "lard" can be problematic. Typically it means bacon, but there are contexts where it clearly means something more like lard in the American sense. )"Saindoux" is rendered lard.) American bacon in France is 'lean  bacon"; French bacon in general is thicker even today. Anthimus says that the  Franks loved raw bacon as a treat, which seems to imply they simply cut it off  the animal; but since bacon can imply some preservation it is not sure if he  meant a smoked and/or salted piece of raw bacon. But certainly it had a lot of  fat on it, since he discusses using it as a kind of ointment.


If this is hard to visualize, I actually saw an episode of "Nightline"  

where an Inuit clubbed a baby seal to death in front of the (horrified)  

interviewer and then proceeded to cut off a bit of the animal and chew on it, so  it's not like people in a hunting-based society would necessarily be shy about  eating the animal raw. The early Scots (and maybe the early Germans) would  simply beat the blood out of freshly killed animals and eat the meat (when you  think about it, building a fire in a snowy forest could have been a problem at times).


Jim Chevallier



Date: Sat, 12 Nov 2016 09:47:38 -0600

From: "Terry Decker" <t.d.decker at att.net>

To: "Cooks within the SCA" <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] bacon, lardo etc


Guanicale is cured hog jowl.  Lardo is cured fatback.  Cured pork belly is just what it says.  These are prepared with salt and blends of various spices and generally air cured.  Salt pork has a higher salt concentration (think salt preserved) and is without spices or curing.


Both Americans and Canadians generally use the term bacon to refer to

"streaky bacon," the stuff made from cured, smoked pork belly.  Where we refer to bacon cured pork loin as Canadian bacon, Canadians are likely to refer to it as "back bacon."





Date: Sat, 12 Nov 2016 21:15:57 -0600

From: "Terry Decker" <t.d.decker at att.net>

To: "Cooks within the SCA" <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] bacon, lardo etc


Guanicale is most commonly used to season other dishes and sauces like

adding salt pork or bacon to green beans.  It probably most closely resemble pancetta with a stronger flavor and a better texture.  Lardo is most commonly used as a cold cut.





Date: Sun, 13 Nov 2016 11:32:20 -0600

From: "Terry Decker" <t.d.decker at att.net>

To: "Cooks within the SCA" <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] bacon, lardo etc


Bacon and salt pork generally fall into three classes:  lean, which is

mostly meat, streaky, which is divided between meat and fat, and fatty,

which is mostly fat.  They are determined by visual examination.


Bacon and salt pork are usually cuts from the back, belly and side (and the jowl in the case of guanciale).  Back cuts are usually the leanest.  For salt pork, the cuts are packed in salt.  For bacon, the cuts are salted or brined, possibly spiced, then cured, by air drying, boiling or smoking.


There are three types of fat on a pig.  Visceral fat, from around the

kidneys and inside the loin, subcutaneous fat, from between the skin and muscles of the pig usually from the back, and caul fat, from around the inner organs.  If I understand your reference, you are going to be blogging on the production of grasa de pella, which is lard rendered from visceral fat.  As I understand the process, the fat is cut or diced into cubes (the lumps) which are first browned and then simmered in water to separate the pure fat from the extraneous tissue.


Actually, there is a difference between medieval pigs and modern pigs.

Medieval pigs were leaner.  Many modern pigs are hybridized with Oriental breeds, producing more fat.  And there is a discernable taste difference between pigs fed grain mash and pigs fed acorns.




<<<I thank you too but I am still so confused because the English from England have terms that I have had a hard time grasping like streaky bacon. To simplify things when translating recipes I generally call for bacon but if it is a Muslim recipe I call for lamb fat.


I don't think I should I use the term pork belly??? When we slaughter the pigs there is fat all over the place. - Yeah, so when streaked with fat I call it bacon. . .


On Feb 24, 17 I will be publishing a blog title "pella," which translates as lumps of fat. Its hard for me to explain it. I see when we open the pig but how can I explainI it?


I don't think there is a difference between pig fat in the Middle Ages and pig fat now??? Doesn't the pig have the same proportions of fat throughout its body is feed on acorns from Huelvas cork oak orchards? >>>


<the end>

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