Is Canadian Bacon Actually Bacon?

Bacon may make everything taste better, but it's important to note that there are a wide variety of bacon styles available. These styles differ based not only on the cuts of pork used but regional preferences as well. In the United States, for example, people typically eat what is known as side bacon or streaky bacon. Sourced from the pork belly of pigs, this style is notable both for its crunchiness and its high-fat content. The latter actually accounts for the streaky moniker, since the bacon is distinguished by its long streaks of fat running alongside the meat.

Americans aren't alone in their preference for bacon made from pork bellies. In Ancient China, the first form of bacon ever made was sourced from the same part of the pig. Pork belly is also used for Italy's famed pancetta. The residents of other nations have their own favorite cuts, however. In England and Ireland, for instance, bacon is made partially from the belly, but mostly from the back of the pig. This back bacon, or pork loin as it is also called, is used for the region's distinctive thinly-sliced rashers.

Then there is the United States' neighbor to the north, Canada, which has its own special variety of bacon. It's a delicious one, too, as anyone who has ever enjoyed a traditional eggs Benedict can attest. But since this meat bears a striking resemblance to ham, some may wonder whether it's technically bacon at all.

The differences between and U.S. and Canadian Bacon

Yes, Canadian bacon is really bacon. It's just not the kind of bacon most familiar to people in the United States. In fact, Canadian bacon is closer to the variety from the United Kingdom, in that it's made from back cuts or pork loin — not the hind leg cuts used for ham. But unlike the United Kingdom version, there is no belly portion attached. Instead, it's just back bacon, and indeed back bacon is the name by which it's commonly known in Canada.

Canadian bacon varies from its American cousins in another important way. In addition to being made from different parts of the pig, Canadian bacon is frequently sold already cooked, not raw like packaged bacon in the United States. Both varieties are commonly served as breakfast or brunch specialties, however.

Some Americans might also be familiar with another Canadian variety of bacon known as peameal bacon. Peameal is made from back bacon, too, but it's coated in cornmeal, giving it a yellowish crust. Peameal is a regional variation — its roots are in Toronto, where it was created around the turn of the 20th century by pork specialist William Davies — and its popularity remains largely limited to the province of Ontario.

The distinctions that separate Canadian bacon from other varieties are minimal, but important. Still, if you pass us a fatty, salty thinly cut slice of fried pig, we don't care what you call it; we're going to eat it up regardless.