Lard is not a regular topic to start a conversation is it? I mean, it’s not like you introduce yourself to someone new. Then break into, “So, uh, tell me. How do you feel about lard?”
Good thing too.
Given it’s refined animal fat, I don’t feel comfortable talking about it either.
But we should.
This greasy by-product of chopping up cows, sheep, and pigs was once the mainstay of many a meal. And mothers – because they were the ones who stopped the family from going hungry – specially prepared dishes with this animal grease.
And the people who ran abattoirs were pretty happy about that. As were the lard packaging people. Because those animals’ fat went a long way to keeping the coffers full.
Besides which, people liked lard. They spread it on bread and even ate it neat. Much like people would eat bread with butter.
Then swallow a knob.
Only lard came from the shops as wrapped up grey blocks that didn’t look especially appetising. So, a bit more of a leap, telling yourself how good this grease is.
Then, somewhere in the 70’s the practice of eating cubes of lard mostly died out. Perhaps because people suddenly realised they were eating the filtered fat from chopped up animal carcasses. Or because butter looked and tasted a whole lot better. Whatever it was, lard became that embarrassed wallflower in the back corner that nobody asked for a dance.
Of course, if you happen to have vegetarian leanings, you’re probably doing a fair amount of dry retching by now. Probably asking yourself why on earth you’re reading about this. But it’s life as it was, and for some still is. Such is the power of lard.
And, after all, people will eat pretty much anything.
So much so, that they’ll put it in their pudding. Or add it to their sauce. Smear some into their cake mix. Or fry it with some eggs.
And, whether you want to eat it or not there’s a certain oily business going on beneath our very noses. Like fried food? Guess what? A whole lot of it is fried with lard? Chips/fries? Yep. Donuts? Yep. It’s widely used in commercial and ‘industrial’ cooking. Why? Because, it’s slightly cheaper.
That’s why they put it in a whole lot of processed foods. Where it’s hidden and nobody seems to notice much less mind. And they call it oleo or trickier names instead (guess they called it oleo because it sounds better – oleo is Spanish for oil). Then, bung it in stuff like frozen pizza. As a kind of pretend cheese.
Will it ever make a comeback in the fat popularity stakes as the world’s leading spread? Given its origins, I hope not. And the fact that it does some pretty scary things to your arteries. But lets not go there.
Because arteries way to thin for us to stand in.
But of course for lard-di-da fans, they won’t even hear a bad word about their favourite fat. To them, it’s the best grease there is. Whichever way you spread it.
Like I said, people will pretty much love to eat anything if they have it often enough. Especially when they’re tiny tikes and get told it’s good for them. Think: rotting shark meat from Iceland, Vegemite spread from Australia, and balut from the Philippines (that’s unborn duck chick boiled in its egg).
We may heave at the thought. And moan at the sight. But those that gleefully swallow such stuff think it’s wonderful.
Just like lard.