Zbigniew Bzdak/Chicago Tribune
Peameal bacon: That's it, I'm moving to Canada! Or rather, I was. Now there is hope: There is peameal bacon in Chicago. Yes, peameal bacon, glorious curiosity from the north! Peameal bacon, brined loin rolled in cornmeal! Peameal bacon, never smoked like ordinary Canuck pig! If you know peameal bacon, you probably have spent time in Canada or are a Canadian. I have spent a lot of time around St. Lawrence Market in Toronto, where peameal sandwiches live in their natural habitat. The peameal sandwich is to Canada what the cheesesteak is to Philly (but a virtual nonentity south of the border). The name comes from an old practice of packaging brined loin in dried peas; that evolved into cornmeal. Which is how Paul Virant has been doing peameal bacon ($6) at brunch at Perennial Virant — sweet sliced loin breaded at the rind, lightly fried in butter. He serves it as a side, not a sandwich. He also gives it a maple syrup brine, which is not traditional but, trust me, works. The idea, he said, came from Bryan Broffeau, a former line cook who grew up in suburban Toronto. Another reason to love Canada. 1800 N. Lincoln Ave.; 312-981-7070; perennialchicago.com.
— Christopher Borrelli