An article appeared in the most recent Village Voice (free registration) that shows that things are truly changing. A food critic strung the fabric of his attacks on the crummy taste of low-fat foods over a framework of reviews of multiple New York restaurants whose chefs have no fear of using lard and other fats in the preparation of their dishes.

Let’s face it. Grease is good. The city has never gone through a worse era of bad food than the low-fat mania of the 1980s, still vestigially represented in the marketplace by awful products like TASTI D-LITE. And our butcher shops have never recovered, either. Ever try to make a burger out of low-fat ground beef? It turns out crumbly and flavorless. And when you buy a brisket to barbecue, you’ve got to grab the butcher’s arm before he trims off all the fat. (My apologies to lady butchers. By the way, have you ever seen one?) Indeed, you can’t have barbecue without plenty of fat, which is the reason most local barbecues are abysmal. Still, you would think low fat is synonymous with virtue if you gaze at labels while wandering through GRISTEDES. The dairy case, in particular, is crammed with low-fat and no-fat products, and they taste like crap.

Low-carb dining and the low-carb diet don’t escape unscathed.

The low-fat ’80s gave way to the no-carb ’90s, and I can’t tell you with what astonishment I observed the obese tucking into giant, yawning plates of greasy bacon and eggs but denying themselves the single darkling slice of buttered toast (or lard-topped, if you will) that would have made the meal palatable. Atkins and South Beach tendencies are still over-represented on restaurant menus, and restaurateurs are gleefully dispensing with the conventional bread basket at dining venues all over town, often because their customers piously refused to touch the stuff while pigging out on gigantic apps and entrées. Hey folks, bread is the staff of life! At the new Italian restaurant GUSTO (60 Greenwich Avenue, 212-924-8000), for example, your meal begins with anchovy-rubbed red radishes, with nary a bread basket in sight. I want my carbs!

What I find interesting is all the restaurants serving low-carb fare and the obvious number of people continuing to pursue their low-carb diets while dining out despite all the hoopla about the demise of the low-carb “fad.”
The author proceed to exonerate cholesterol, praise the egg, and attack trans fats. He uses a great line that I like so much I may appropriate it for my own talks:

Want to know what trans fat looks like? Open a can of Crisco.



  1. You’d probably be amused to check Crisco on the Wikipedia at
    An excerpt:
    “When William Procter and James Gamble started the company Procter & Gamble, they hired chemist E. C. Kayser and developed the process to hydrogenate cottonseed oil, which ensures the shortening remains solid at normal storage temperatures. The initial purpose was to create a cheaper substance to make candles than the expensive animal fats in use at the time. Electricity began to diminish the candle market, and since the product looked like lard, they began selling it as a food.”
    Hi Mauro–
    I”m not sure I believe what’s written about this in Wikipedia. As I’m sure you know, anyone can add anything and put any definition up on Wikipedia without having any knowledge or supporting information about the subject. I’ve got a little book published in 1913 by the Proctor & Gamble Company entitled ‘The Story of Crisco’ about the development and marketing of Crisco. According to this book Crisco was developed as a substitute for cooking fats common at the time – lard and butter – because the rapidly increasing population was outgrowing its supply of these natural fats. At the time (as is the same now) there was an anti-animal fat bias thanks to John Harvey Kellogg and the other misguided nutritional gurus of the day. As the little book says: “It was the earnest aim of the makers of Crisco to produce a strictly vegetable product without adding a hard, and consequently indigestible animal fat. There is today a pronounced partiality from a health standpoint to a vegetable far, and the lardy, greasy taste of food resulting from the use of animal fat never has been in such disfavor as during the past few years.”
    As soon as I get my scanner unpacked and hooked up, I plan on scanning much of this little book into a blog post. It is most interesting.

  2. Generally when somebody adds something to Wikipedia, they contribute on an article regarding something they’re knowlegable about.
    When vandalism happens, it’s usually to an article on a controversial topic, and it’s usually blatant. There are situations, however, in which people who are enthused but not informed edit articles. For example, many video game articles will be edited by young people who are very enthused about them, or people who misunderstand the goals and intentions of Wikipedia. These are the incidents in which copyrighted works are blatantly copied, or immature comments are inserted. A great deal of the uncited claims originate here too.
    There are some blatantly biased articles, but I think misunderstandings and easily corrected, blatant vandalism plague Wikipedia a lot more.
    That statement of Wikipedia was not cited, and I can see why you’d view it as dodgy. However, an article cited here corroborates the story:
    This one is cited (in fact, it cites the very same book you do) but it doesn’t say which reference the story of candle wax comes from. While the late Weston A. Price is himself an object of due admiration, I’m not sure I trust the foundation. Ultimately, sourced statements on Wikipedia tend to be reliable, and it’s a research tool for which there is no alternative – even if it’s only used as a directory of links to primary sources.
    I can tell you that the story about the candle wax doesn’t come from the little book. Thanks for the info on Wikipedia. It’s always my first online source for info, but I always double check everything I read there unless I already know it to be true.

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