Why does bacon taste so good?
my personal beliefs are that the complex chemical interaction in the meat is what produces the winning combination of taste and smell in a bacon butty and that the reaction between amino acids in the bacon and reducing sugars in the fat is what provides the simple snack with its appeal.
Also the chemical changes that take place when the bacon is heated are more important than other variables such as brown sauce distribution or toaster settings.
At the centre of it all is the Maillard reaction, a chemical reaction between an amino acid and a reducing sugar which often requires heat. The acid and sugar react to release a huge amount of smells and flavours.
The smell of sizzling bacon in a pan is enough to tempt even the staunchest of vegetarians. There’s something deeper going on inside. It’s not just the idea of a tasty snack. There is some complex chemistry going on.
Meat is made of mostly protein and water. Inside the protein, it’s made up of building blocks we call amino acids. But also, you need some fat. Anyone who’s been on a diet knows if you take all the fat from the meat, it just doesn’t taste the same. We need some of the fat to give it the flavour.
Fats mean that there are some reducing sugars in there as well. When it’s really hot – that’s when the Maillard reaction starts.
The reaction releases hundreds of smells and flavours but it is the smell which reels in the eater. Smell and taste are really closely linked, if we couldn’t smell then taste wouldn’t be the same.
Big thanks to Mike Wallace for the text.