No, it’s not my review of the new Dan Brown blockbuster, it’s bacon! Lovely, crispy, salty bacon wrapped around…stuff that isn’t bacon.
I love bacon even though it was my undoing. I was a very happy vegetarian for two years in high school. If my mother is reading this, right about now, she will be having a little snicker to herself and muttering “Huh…The only vegetarian in the world who didn’t eat vegetables.” And there is a grain of truth in that. I did spend two years eating not much more than tomato and cheese sandwiches and the occasional omelette.
Until I was brought down by bacon.
(Cue dramatic music…wow, this could be turning into a Dan Brown novel).
I used to have tennis lessons, very early, every Sunday morning. The family that lived next door to the tennis courts would, without fail, have a fry up for breakfast every week. The smell of bacon would drift out over the tennis court in a haze of mouth-watering deliciousness. “Eat me, eat me, ” it taunted.
Over weeks of this, bacon came to represent so much more than a tasty breakfast dish, it became a symbol of a better life. The kind of life where, on Sunday mornings, people had leisurely cooked breakfasts and listened to Mozart and spoke French whilst doing the Sunday crossword in less than twenty minutes. It represented a glamour and sophistication utterly removed from my reality of huffing and puffing around a glorified field, still half asleep, wearing a polyester track suit that did not so much keep the cold out as keep the sweat in and having someone repeatedly yelling at me to hit a damn ball over a stupid net. I began to yearn for bacon in the same way I yearned for Paris and champagne and pink Sobranie cigarettes in one of those long cigarette holders like Audrey Hepburn’s in Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
I was a weird child.
I have no idea whether the neighbours were the glamorous types I imagined them to be or a bunch of suburban lard-arses who are now appearing on The Biggest Loser so that their fat-clogged arteries can be given a second lease of life. I suspect the latter. If so, can I suggest that the producers of the show make them play tennis. At seven. On a Sunday morning. In winter. I’ll be lurking somewhere near by with a portable grill and a couple of rashers. Let’s see how they like it.
Anyway, I lasted about three months before I caved. One cold wintry morning I came home from said lesson. Mum asked if I would like my tomato and cheese sandwich plain or toasted.
“I want bacon” I snapped in the snotty way only a 16-year-old can. Then I stomped upstairs to my room and listened to The Smiths until mum called me back downstairs for a plate of lovely, lovely life-affirming B & E.
History lesson over. And that’s about all the history I can give you because the reasons oysters are linked with angels, prunes with devils and either wrapped in bacon is termed “on horseback” are lost in time. Maybe that could be the subject of the next Dan Brown… an obscure culinary term could lead Robert Langdon on a search that reveals the long hidden conspiracy behind whether Elvis really did die on his toilet. (If you’re reading this Brown, back off now. I know what you’re like. The Fried-Peanut-Butter and Bacon-Sandwich Code is mine.)
Inspired by the Angels on Horseback recipe in The Party Cookbook I recently went on a bacon rampage and made three versions of this classic hors d’œuvre.
If you like it spicy, adding a dash of tabasco sauce to the Angels only makes them more delicious!
For Devils on Horseback, substitute Prunes for the Oysters above and leave out the paprika.
For Cheesy Devils, stuff the prunes with Goat’s Cheese before wrapping in the bacon.
Some people like to serve their Devils on Horseback with Mango Chutney. I’m not a big fan but I did have some Kashmiri Date Chutney in the fridge and this was quite nice as a dip for the Cheesy Devils.
These were all delicious and I would make them all again. In order my preference was Angels on Horseback, Cheesy Devils, then Devils on Horseback but I would not discount any of them.
I no longer desire the Sobranies, but Angels on Horseback with a Glass of champagne and the Sunday Cryptic crossword? C’est parfait!
Have a great week!