One of the many joys of travelling is discovering the hidden local food gems. Those foodstuffs that have developed there through local customs, locally grown or caught products or immigration. Everywhere has them, and Toronto has peameal bacon.
The name alone is enough for me to want to take a bite – something I haven’t eaten yet – an unexplored food joy. I find I am constantly seeking new experiences and I always find that first bite a wonder. Almost always good, sometimes – and rarely – awful. Tuna Salami I am looking at you, please don’t darken my door again!
It’s attributed to English influence – England at one point had a pork shortage and so imported bacon sides from Canada. I do wonder if we Irish had a hand in it though. Back bacon (which this is) is the favoured cut in Ireland, and it really reminds me of gammon. Toronto used to be called little Belfast too, and has a suburb which was once full of Cork people called Corktown. There is also Cabbage Town where Irish immigrants grew cabbages in their gardens to eat. I love that. Can’t my address also be in Cabbage Town?
Peameal bacon was made by using ground yellow peas as a cure during the war years. This treatment ensured a longer shelf life and less bacterial problems. Over time corn was adapted as cornmeal became more readily available and was even less risky from a bacterial perspective
What of the peameal bacon sandwich though? An essential pitstop while in Toronto is Carousel Bakery at St Lawrence Market. It is deservedly famous. Moist thick slices of peameal bacon with maple mustard in a hot bread roll is a perfect lunch. It reminded me so much of Irish bacon it whisked me right back to my childhood for a very pleasant ten minutes. Go.
St Lawrence Market, 92- 95 Front St E, Toronto, ON M5E 1C3, Canada