Slate published a story on Tuesday about how lard's supposedly making a comeback. With all of the frantic foodies tripping all over themselves to sing the praises of meat consumption recently, this progression (or regression, really) doesn't seem that far-fetched. Slate's Regina Schrambling wrote:
I'm convinced that the redemption of lard is finally at hand because we live in a world where trendiness is next to godliness. And lard hits all the right notes, especially if you euphemize it as rendered pork fat—bacon butter.Schrambling goes on to laud lard as being an essential ingredient in much authentic (e.g. Mexican) cuisine and to focus on its apparent health benefits (e.g. she says that since it has a higher burning point that frying chicken in it leaves the chicken absorbing less of it -- sorta irrelevant for most of the folks who read this blog, I'd say).
Schrambling also stresses the superiority of lard to shortening, calling the latter the "go-to solid fat" of the '90s. That's like promoting low-tar cigarettes as a healthy thing by comparing them to cigars, really. Plus, in the last ten years, I don't think that I've purchased a single cookbook that's ever called for shortening in any of the recipes. Touting lard as a better option to something that's not really used much in the first place is misleading.
She also states that the saturated fat in lard has a neutral effect on blood cholesterol. Someone should inform the American Heart Association of this, since it's still asserting that saturated fat does indeed raise bad blood cholesterol and it lists lard several places on its website where it discusses minimizing one's consumption of saturated fats to avoid heart disease.
In case anyone has any doubts, Schrambling pretty much clarifies which bandwagon she's hopped on halfway through her short piece, stating that:
[w]hat matters more, though, is that lard has become the right ingredient at the right time. It fits perfectly into the Michael Pollan crusade to promote foods that have been processed as minimally as possible: Your great-grandmother surely cooked with it, so you should, too.She then wraps up by waxing on about the environmental / sustainability motivation to return to using lard, getting all hot and sassy post-Pollan foodie-style by describing how its usage is finding a niche in high-end restaurants and quipping that "[l]ard is just about the last stop before the squeal when pork producers are extracting every savory bit from a pig". 'Cause Schrambling thinks that pigs are things, don't you know.
So head's up to all: "Lard: Coming soon to clog another artery near you!"