Bacon is one of America’s favorite foods, used in about every way imaginable and a staple at the breakfast table. But what about Canadian bacon? Where did it come from, why is it called that, and do Canadians eat it?
First, let’s define what Canadian bacon is. Canadian bacon is the cut of meat from the lean loin of a pig’s back, while bacon in America is cut from the pork belly. Canadian bacon is leaner and has less fat, while bacon in America has streaks of fat due to where the cut comes from. But why is it called Canadian bacon?
The origin of the name is believed to have come from a time in the mid-1800s when there was a shortage of pork in the United Kingdom. To make up for the shortfall, pork was imported from Canada. The British used this lean loin of the pig’s back to make what was called peameal bacon since it would be rolled in ground split yellow peas after it was cured in a special brine. It then became known as Canadian bacon. Eventually, it made its way to the US and has been known as Canadian bacon, though minus the peameal, ever since.
Canadians don’t refer to this type of bacon as Canadian bacon, of course. This bacon is still known as peameal bacon or even back bacon in Canada. One difference now is that the peameal was replaced with cornmeal after World War I since it was more readily available, though calling it peameal bacon was already stuck in place.
But do Britons still eat Canadian bacon? Not Quite. Bacon eaten in the UK is a bit different and is a combination of American bacon and Canadian bacon. It is more similar to Canadian bacon in shape, but it is cut with more of the fat left on. The Brits refer to this bacon slice as a “rasher.” Incidentally, American-style bacon in the UK is called “streaky bacon” due to the streaks of fat running in it.