Bacon Sandwich, circa 1747

Those who inabit the Mountains of Calabria, which are ver’d with Snow almost the whole Year, toast their Bread, as also t heir Bacon, which they press between two hot Toasts, in order to make the Bread imbibe the Fat expres’d from the Bacon; and they enjoy good Healh by Means of this Nourishment, which is easily prepar’d, and the only Species of Aliment they use during the considerable Part of the year. 1747

Totally serendipitous find form a Google Books search. This is from the completely obscure “Soldier’s Vade Mecum; Or the Method of Curing the Diseases and Preserving Health in Soldiers” by Luca Antonia Prozio. In terms of diet, Ponzio seems to imagine Calabria as a kind of Arctic. A greasy bacon sandwich is the staple food. When I used to travel to Hungary and Lithuania in the late 1990s, the biggest fireside treat was melting cured bacon fat skewered on a stick over a piece of bread or toast. I think the last time I had it was sitting around a stone ringed campfire in the clearing of a pine forest, at the house of “The Sheriff,” a colorful bearded man in his late sixties who spoke no English, but sported a sheriff badge. He had lost his job in the troubles of 1968. He lived in a log cabin in the forest where, amongst other things, he made puppets out of sticks he found in the forest that were naturally shaped like people or animals. I was with my friend, the mycologist, David Arora. We were guests of the Bratislavan Mycological Society in September of the momentous year, 1989.

Perhaps, from the diet of our Calabrian bacon sandwich eaters, we can infer that besides growing wheat, that they ran pigs in the Calabrian oak forest. Calabria, in the Italian far South. It is Durum country. It might be right to think of this bread as similar to the now world famous Pane di Altimura.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s