This Is Why Bacon Tastes SO Much Better in Britain

It may be time to redirect our bacon love and follow the chewier, thicker example of our British cousins.

britishpigcharnsitr/BlackAkaliko/ShutterstockWhat do you picture when you think of a big plate of bacon—a morning staple for any meat-loving American? Crispy, fat-streaked strips, right? But venture across the pond and you might get a surprise when you order your favorite breakfast at a British eatery.

Because Brits do bacon differently: Forget crispy strips, forget streaks of fat, and say hello to chewier, thicker, rounder slices. If it sounds more like a slice of grilled deli meat than what we know and love as bacon, well, that’s pretty much what it looks like. Let’s just say you won’t see the difference in this bacon frittata recipe, though you might taste it.

So why, exactly, is British bacon so different than American bacon?

Since both types of bacon are cured, it all comes down to the cut of meat. American bacon comes from one of the fattiest parts of the pig—pork belly—which explains the fatty streaks, while British bacon (known as rashers) comes from the loin, the middle of the pig’s back, which is a leaner area. This cut of meat, also used for Canadian bacon and Irish bacon, is where pork tenderloin and loin roast are taken from, with a difference in the slicing and curing technique.

While Brits can get all sorts of their home-grown favorites (Heinz baked beans, Ambrosia custard, and Tetley tea) fairly easily here in the United States, it’s more difficult for them to get the bacon they know and love. This is because the back cut of bacon cannot legally be called bacon in the U.S.

U.S. Department of Agriculture labeling policies dictate that that the word “bacon” refer only to “the cured belly of a swine carcass.” Bacon made from other parts of the pig must be labelled accordingly, e.g. “pork shoulder bacon.” However, Brits who really, really don’t want crispy, streaky, fatty strips can look for a package labeled “back bacon.”

Inspired to take a more international approach to breakfast? Try pork shoulder bacon or back bacon, and check out these healthy breakfast ideas from around the world. Also, find out the reason Americans refrigerate their eggs and the Europeans don’t.