Friday, August 12, 2005

Hog Times

High on the Hog - New York Times:

"I have a suggestion for those Old World cooks who are wrestling with New World advice: take another look at the fat profile of lard. It has half the level of saturated fat of palm kernel oil (about 80 percent saturated fat) or coconut oil (about 85 percent) and its approximately 40 percent saturated fat is lower than butter's nearly 60 percent. Today's miracle, olive oil, is much lower in saturated fat, as everyone knows, but it does have some: about 13 percent. As for monounsaturated fat, the current savior, olive oil contains a saintly 74 percent, yes. But scorned lard contains a very respectable 45 percent monounsaturated fat - double butter's paltry 23 or so percent.

As with all dietary advice, the fat of the day will change. But eternal truths will remain: food is always best with little or no processing and eaten as close as possible to where it is grown. This goes for lard, too. The artisan pig farmers whose fortunes have been revived by a new market for pork with real flavor should look into selling lard because the supermarket kind is processed and dismal. And Dr. Frieden's request may produce a burgeoning metropolitan market.

The health department is suggesting alternative oils including olive oil and neutral oils like peanut, sunflower and cottonseed. Olive oil is a true gift of nature, of course, and good for anything on a grill or from the garden. But when it comes to cherry pie or fried chicken or French fries, excessive reliance on these oils has the potential to clear both arteries and restaurants. Chefs and short-order cooks can do everyone a favor - even the guardians of the public health - by reaching for the fat that everyone knows tastes the best: lard."

Lard: the new health food. I'm gonna go grab a stick now!