FOOD HISTORY: Peameal Bacon: The The Real Canadian Bacon

 Americans who love Eggs Benedict know that it consists of smoked, ham-like slices of "Canadian" bacon on a toasted English muffin  topped with poached eggs and covered with Hollandaise sauce. Real Canadian bacon is quite different from what Americans call "Canadian" bacon. While both are cured, the American "Canadian" bacon is smoked, as well, giving it a flavor close to ham. The non-smoked Canadian bacon has a light, salty flavor, without the smokiness, so it tastes more like fresh ham or pork loin. In fact, in Canada, their version of "Canadian" bacon is not even called "Canadian" bacon; it is called "Peameal" bacon. The Canadian bacon story starts in Wilts County, in SW England where the practice emerged of submerging boneless pork loins  in a brown sugar, salt brine until it was cured. This enhanced "shelf  life". In 1854, William Davies, of  Wallingford, England, emigrated to Toronto, Canada, where he set up a shop in the St. Lawrence Market selling pork products including  this type of cured pork. His products were greeted with such enthusiasm, that he founded the William Davies Company. His company became the largest pork packer and shipper in the British Empire and Toronto became known as "Hogtown". In those days before refrigeration, the pork was shipped after being brined cured, which helped in the preservation of the pork loins. In addition, they were rolled in ground, dried yellow peas (peameal)  to preserve the meat even further. Thus, "Peameal" bacon was born.  At the turn of the 19th century, England experienced a great pork shortage and began importing large quantities of pork products, including Peameal bacon  from Canada. The British, then, smoked the Peameal bacon (pork loins). Americans tasting the smoked British version, assumed that all bacon from Canada was smoked. When they brought this idea home with them, they called the smoked version, "Canadian Bacon". Thus, arose the confusion between real Canadian  (unsmoked Peameal Bacon) and the American  smoked, "Canadian" bacon.  This continues today. While, in Canada, the dried, ground, yellow pea coating of Canadian Peameal  bacon has been replaced by the use of yellow cornmeal (cheaper), Canadians still refer to their bacon as "Peameal Bacon" and it is as popular as ever. In Canada it is used more for sandwiches, as a loin roast, with eggs, in pasta or in any dish were a cured, non- smoked piece of pork loin would do, rather than for Eggs Benedict. However, it certainly may be used for that purpose, as well.