When Canadians rise and shine, their breakfasts sometimes include peameal bacon: cured pork loin, rolled in yellow cornmeal. Compared to the ham-like “Canadian” bacon enjoyed by Americans, peameal bacon is considered a Canadian specialty that likely originated in Toronto, where it’s still beloved today.
In the early 20th century, Toronto was nicknamed “Hogtown” as a paean to its pork-processing power. Legend has it that one prolific producer of the Victorian era, William Davies, invented peameal bacon, initially using ground dried peas as a crust to preserve pork loin a little longer. Eventually, the peas were swapped out for cornmeal, which in today’s age of refrigeration serves only to give the bacon a crispy edge. Unlike other types of bacon, the peameal variety is trimmed of fat and isn’t smoked, giving it a milder flavor once it’s off the griddle. The lack of fat means that it stays juicy, rather than becoming crunchy and dry.
It’s multipurpose, too. When it’s not on the breakfast plate, a whole slab of peameal bacon can be cooked as a roast for dinner. It has even been honored officially: In 2016, peameal bacon on a roll was declared Toronto’s signature dish.
Where to Try It
Carousel Bakery92 - 95 Front Street East, Toronto, Ontario, M5E 1C3, Canada
This bakery inside the St. Lawrence Market sells a famed peameal bacon sandwich. It's cash only.