In Italy they cure the belly the same way and instead of smoking it they roll it up allow it to air cure for a few weeks, the result is called pancetta. In France, they call it ventreche, they usually don't cure it as long and they smoke it lightly. In England they make 'bacon' out of all kinds of cuts, shoulders and the loin being the most common, in most of the Commonwealth they refer to bacon made out the loin as bacon and bacon from the belly as American or streaky bacon. Same treatment, different body part. Although many large scale commercial bacon producers will soak the bellies in a brine, or inject them with brine as opposed to dry curing, which will lower the quality of the finished product. Dry curing is generally considered the superior method for bacon preparation.
The process for dry curing and smoking meats is at the most basic level the same: Rub meat in salt. The salt draws out the moisture and penetrates the meat. Bacterias and micro-organisms that destroy food depend on water for survival. Salt will also kill bacteria through the same molecular process that draws moisture out of the meat, it sucks the moisture out of the cells, which kills them. By creating a dry, salty environment inside your meat you make it much less hospitable for nasties, therefore preserving it. Smoking serves to further preserve meats, adding nitrites. Most salamis, prosciuttos, pancettas and air cured meats are also inoculated with beneficial bacteria, which break down and consume sugars found in muscle tissue and fat, and creating lactic acid as waste, which acts as a preservative as well as adds characteristic flavor.
As far as the belly is concerned, there's literally a million different ways you can cure it for a million different things. Try wrapping a cured belly (with the skin on) around a pork loin (stuffed with dried plums reconstituted in port wine or something wonderful) and them smoking/roasting it. it's lovely. The skin seals in all the fat so none escapes during smoking and gets all crispy crunchy like cracklins on the outside, greasy porky goodness on the inside.
One of my favorites is Pork Belly Confit, which is technically a brine and not a dry cure:
2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
3 bay leaves, crumbled
10 sprigs fresh thyme
4 tablespoons Morton’s kosher salt
6 pounds pork belly, skin removed and cut into 1-by-3-inch chunks
Dry white wine as needed
Rendered pork or duck fat as needed
Canola oil or rendered pork or duck fat for deep-frying
1. Combine all the cure ingredients in a bowl and stir to distribute the seasonings evenly.
2. Toss the pork with the cure to coat evenly. Pack into a nonreactive container and cover with white wine. Cover and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours.
3. Preheat the oven to 250°F (120°C). Remove the pork from the cure and pat the pieces dry with paper towels. Place the pork in an ovenproof pot or Dutch oven and cover with the rendered fat. Bring to a simmer on the stovetop, then place in the oven, uncovered, and cook until the pork is fork-tender, about 2 to 3 hours.
4. Remove the pork from the oven and cool to room temperature in the fat. If you simply can’t wait to eat this succulent bundle when it has finished its confit (we highly recommend chilling all confit, which intensifies the juicy tenderness of the meat), you can pour off and reserve the fat, then return the pan to the stovetop over high heat until the meat is nicely browned. If you have the stamina to wait, refrigerate the pork in the pan it was cooked in or transfer to another container and add the fat; the pork should be completely submerged in fat. Refrigerate until completely chilled, or for up to 2 months.
6. To serve, remove the pork from the refrigerator, preferably a few hours ahead. Remove the pork from the fat and wipe off the excess. In a deep, heavy pot, heat the oil for deep-frying to 350°F to 375°F (175°C to 190°C). Deep-fry the pork belly until crispy and heated through, about 2 minutes if it was at room temperature. Remove and drain on paper towels.
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