Everybody is itchy, hairy, impatient under this winter cast. The snow persists and I am lulled into majestic hibernation. A cozy glow is the wind to my gale, peanuts to my ale, the blubber to my whale. And while we’re on the subject — fat: it’s what’s for winter.
As a woman who grew up in the low-fat, nonfat haze of the ’80s and ’90s I’m glad fat is back (and hopefully back isn’t fat though fat-back is a good stew enhancer). Fat is no longer “wack,” margarine is frowned upon (because it causes the lips to curl downward), raw milk is in, cream’s a dream, and while irony may be the order of many a day, it seems people actually want to be in a good mood these days. Fat will help with that.
I’m not suggesting to go headfirst into the jiggly wiggly pig trough — though be my guest if you please. I’m never one to stand between a person and a feast and I do have a gushy spot in my heart for a fatty sheen, or poetically, at least, the idea of a fatty sheen on a hobo-cooked can of beans with a precious sliver of pork. Which brings me to this: I think we’re in a weird spot culturally. We have a tremendous obesity epidemic, which in some ways is a backlash of Great Depression-era famine beliefs passed down to generations swathed in burger-availability, if you will. The other side of that coin is utter deprivation. And so fat scares us even though we need it for health.
Don’t worry — I lift weights and do a gentle pas-de-deux with that which is fatted. But I’m embracing fat because my body wants it. Butter, whole milk, yes, in moderation, egg yolks, oh precious egg yolks — I break thee with great ceremony and gaze upon thy sunny disposition and do thee the honor you deserve as a could-have-been chunky chicken.
When I was younger I didn’t like duck because of the layer of fat under the skin. Even though a lot of it should be rendered while cooking it is one of the aspects of duck to which I now look most forward. If you can give me some mousse made from its liver I’m even happier. But the power of pure fat is to be understood, respected, savored. But a good slather, a good schmear, is a true temptation.
That little ribbon of translucence at the top of a piece of bacon used to turn me off, too — the crispier and curlier the bacon, the better. But I’ve found over the past year my enjoyment of that morsel has grown. Maybe because I’m getting older the fat is going to lubricate my aging joints. Yeah, that’s it. So bring on the chunk of pork belly at my favorite restaurant. Lamb ribs. And I know it’s trendy but cheers to broth that has been boiled for so long the natural collagen rises to the top and solidifies when it cools.
Fat, I salute you.
Jenn Sutkowski can pump the brakes on fat anytime by watching “The Supersizers Go,” a BBC reality show in which a couple eat copious amounts from various eras seemingly always accompanied by claret. Find her at www.jennsutkowski.com.
This Full Frontal column was originally published Wednesday February 11, 2015 in the Newport Mercury.
It's me, Jennifer Bernice (rhymes with "Furnace": it was my Granny's name) Sutkowski
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