Face Bacon, Breakfast of Champions and Other Literary Legacies or, What I Ate: Homemade Guanciale

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

This looks like a still from a David Fincher movie, doesn't it?

Upon closer inspection, it looks like bacon, but believe me, it's far less commonplace. In fact it's highly prized guanciale, or "jowl bacon" made by my paesan, Guy (Come vai, Gaetano? Questo guanciale e bellisimo!)

If you're new to this racy, cured meat, here's how Babbo (one of Mario Batali's terrific NYC restaurants) describes guanciale

Here's the easiest way to have a taste of it--render the fat in a pan...

...then scramble eggs in it--you are guaranteed to have a wonderful day!

Speaking of breakfast of champions, and on a twisty side note, I first learned about guanciale by reading Marcella Hazan's "Classic Italian Cooking" books (the first cooking books that could hold my interest) which I learned about by discovering Kurt Vonnegut's amusing semi-graphic novel "Breakfast of Champions."

See, I was in junior high school and naturally fishing for something subversive to read (a lifetime hobby) when I came upon "BoC" -- a hilarious thing with goofy doodles and lots of talk about sex, drugs and crazy, sad adults behaving like robots. Man was I smitten!

Over the next few weeks, I read most everything Vonnegut had ever written, including a couple of books where he mentions Hazan. Thus began another lifetime hobby--reading and thinking about food. Strange world, isn't it?