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November 10, 2008

The Pleasures of Fat

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

It's pleasing to see that bacon is having a big cultural moment. "Bacon," writes Scott Gold, hitting just the right tone, "is amazing."

Edward Bottone writes in praise of fat.

Here's some straight shooting about saturated fat. The short version: "Study after study has failed to provide definitive evidence that saturated-fat intake leads to heart disease."



UDPATE: Maybe we should relax a little about sat-fat and be a whole lot more wary of corn. Note that corn -- a contributor to both obesity and various environmental ills, at least as currently used -- receives large subsidies from the U.S. government. How did we come to have a government that underwrites chubbiness?

posted by Michael at November 10, 2008


As Emeril Lagasse has always said, "Pork fat rules!"

Bacon is popular, because there is something magic about smoked pork fat. Bacon tastes and smells like no other meat on Earth. That's why "Bacon Salt" is popular amongst vegetarians, even though I'm sure it tastes no more like real bacon than artificial bacon bits taste like real bacon. (They do taste a bit like bacon, though, and vegetarians who miss bacon have to take what they can get. I have acquaintances who tried to be vegetarian, but found that they couldn't do without bacon, and so they quit trying; I have some other acquaintances who insist they are vegetarians, but allow themselves some "accidental bacon" (making the excuse that bacon and pork are hard to avoid in Southern cuisine, which is true enough - even veggies like turnip greens end up flavoured with pork bits - but still, it makes me snort derisively, in contempt.))

For me, the smell of bacon frying is the most pleasant and effective alarm clock - how could one NOT want to leap out of bed, at the prospect of starting one's day with bacon, the king of meats, the only meat used as a condiment for other meats (bacon cheeseburger; filet mignon; chicken tournados, sausage breakfast sandwiches with bacon, etc.)

All hail bacon!

Posted by: Will S. on November 11, 2008 1:05 AM

I hadn't even seen Scott Gold's other piece there before my last posting, but it dovetails nicely with my comments on vegetarians who sneak bacon, and would-be vegetarians who succumb to temptation, and return to meat:

Posted by: Will S. on November 11, 2008 1:25 AM

MB: since you bring up corn...

Corn (or more properly, maize), that most North American of crops, is of course, highly versatile, not only providing us with corn on the cob, corn kernels, creamed corn, but also: popcorn, corn oil, corn syrup, corn starch, corn chips / tortillas, bourbon, moonshine...

Which brings us to the reason for the subsidies... Ethanol, not as a beverage, but as a gasoline additive. Biofuels; touted by leftist enviros as the perfect alternative to those evil fossil fuels.

But is it? Even Time Magazine, that most liberal news organ, has its doubts:


Once again, the Law of Unintended Consequences turns around and bites us in the ass. We should have known, though; TANSTAAFL...

Posted by: Will S. on November 11, 2008 1:45 AM

I've had the late-night job of making the terrines for a French restaurant. The trick is to incorporate masses of hard back-fat, never the lardy stuff which tends to render out.

Rillettes are good, but head-cheese even better. At the poorest period of my life, I had access to pigs' heads, a pressure cooker, and a lemon tree. The split head was pressure cooked till the meat fell from the face. The juice was then reduced with lemon juice, onions, peppercorns and whatever herbs were available. The shredded meat was then recombined with this meaty/lemony syrup and the whole was cooled to jelly while being weighted with a brick.

Lastly, I remember stumbling into a Greek village late at night and finding that the only food left was the fat and skin of a suckling-pig that was still hanging on the spit. What a meal we made of it!

Don't you love hanging out on the net talking about pork fat?

Posted by: Robert Townshend on November 11, 2008 8:38 AM

Of course corn and meat do not exist in separate universes. Much of the corn crop is used as animal feed.

Posted by: Peter on November 11, 2008 9:20 AM

I agree with a comment you made several months ago, MB; why in the Hell is the government concerned with our diets, or what crops we grow, in the first place? I don't see this anywhere in the Constitution, or even in any emanations or penumbras. When did this crap start, anyway? New Deal Ag policies? Wartime rationing? Seventies nanny-state? I mean, there could hardly be a greater intrusion on personal privacy than telling people what to eat, yet we all just accept it. Fight the Power, and have some bacon, I say...

Posted by: Tschafer on November 11, 2008 10:08 AM

Townshend, you're making me hungry, man. Don't stop or anything. I love hanging out and jawing about pork fat too. It's just I'm hungry is all I'm sayin'.

Great link Will. Meat as a post-orgasm craving? Better than a cigarette for sure, and these days, just as un-PC.

Posted by: PatrickH on November 11, 2008 11:27 AM

Robert Townshend: I fancy a man who knows how to use condiments to make a gourmet meal, and who knows how to survive outside of McDonald's. Bravo.

Not a great conspiracy theorist, but I do think the "food pyramid" and the high carbs and diet sodas and ubiquitous high fructose corn syrup have contributed to obesity. What was so hard about the "Basic Four" food groups. Cholesterol is not the devil; our body produces a lot of it. Poor Dean Ornish and his followers -- fat (lipids) encase every cell in your body.

Some of the most shriveled people I know are thin long-term vegetarians. Nothing wrong with hewing to the veggie side of things, mind you, but a little fat is a good thing. Full-fat dairy, if you want to maintain your weight.

Now they are offering supplements of CLA to help you lose weight. If one consumed dairy which contained the proper CLA, as they do in the Scandanavian countries, this would not be a problem. Alas, everyone gets to benefit -- the doctors, the supplements and candlestick makers.

Posted by: Lisa on November 11, 2008 12:05 PM

And yet the most intelligent race on Earth won't eat bacon. God must have a rather dry sense of humour.

Posted by: dearieme on November 11, 2008 5:29 PM

The most intelligent race on Earth will so eat bacon! We Irish love the stuff.

Posted by: PatrickH on November 11, 2008 6:33 PM

dearieme: if you mean those who can't eat pork because it ain't kosher; well, be that as it may, they still enjoy smoked meat, in the form of: corned beef, pastrami, Montreal smoked meat... Smoked beef isn't bacon, but it's a close second. :)

Posted by: Will S. on November 12, 2008 7:05 AM

After ham, that is.

Posted by: Will S. on November 12, 2008 7:07 AM

Tschafer: the Department of Agriculture was established in 1862. As early as 1836, the Commissioner of Patents was engaged in collecting and distributing new varieties of seeds. By 1914, the DoA was running experimental stations and offering instruction in new farming techniques all over the country.

By the 1920s, the economic distress of many farmers led to proposals for price supports and other market regulation. Coolidge and Hoover had none of it, but under FDR it all came in. The programs soon became politically irresistible, what with regulatory capture.

As to diet, there is a natural public interest in determining what is healthy or unhealthy to eat, and in getting this information to the general public. If it wasn't for such efforts, we wouldn't have iodized salt (preventing goiter) or vitamin-D-enhanced milk (preventing rickets). Unfortunately, these modest successes went to the heads of the public health/nutrition experts, leading to today's wretched excesses of nannyism.

Posted by: Rich Rostrom on November 12, 2008 8:16 PM

More on meat and sexuality:

Posted by: Will S. on December 3, 2008 12:02 AM

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