Fat Chance

Can we talk? We have been sold a lemon – fat is not bad for you and eating fat does not raise your cholesterol level and does not give you a heart attack. My parents, siblings and I were brought up on cheese, full fat milk, cream, butter, lard (pork), suet (beef & lamb) and ice-cream. My parents lived till their nineties and none of us has heart disease or free-range arteries.  ‘Low-fat’ and ‘non-fat’ foods and drinks are tasteless nonsense and now my pig and sheep farming colleagues are forced to breed ‘low-fat’, lean animals.  Fat on an animal shows it is healthy. 

It’s too ghastly for words – we are losing the positive flavour memory that fat should trigger and rejecting the marbled beef, fatty pork and plump birds that have always given us so much pleasure with their taste and texture. Thanks to the fat police we eat less than a quarter of the butter and a fifth of the lard that we ate in 1900. It is true there are fewer deaths from heart disease today but it is not because we have deprived ourselves of fat, it is because of improved medical care. What you do have to deprive yourself of is fast and processed food full of naughty trans-fats, refined carbohydrates and empty promises.

Fat didn’t kill our ancestors and there is no proof that a low-fat diet improves health or lengthens our lives, let alone makes us beautiful, rich or powerful. The present is the only time in history where the rich are thin and the poor are fat. Contrary to popular belief, fat cells do not migrate in little ships to our thighs. Eating fat does not make us fat – eating too much of any food group and not exercising makes us fat. Fat makes food feel good in the mouth because it acts as a transporter for flavour-carrying molecules in food and slows down absorption by the taste buds.

Think brown butter ice cream, chips fried in pork lard (has no smell), braised pork belly, fruit pie with leaf lard pastry, duck fat biscuits, foie gras, suet roly poly pudding and cassoulet. I’m fainting just writing about it. My absolute favourite fat in the whole world is beef bone marrow. When I’m in my home in France I make toast topped with roasted marrow. I just throw the marrow bones in the oven sprinkled with pepper and salt, roast at 180˙C for 20 mins to half an hour, then gently ease the marrow out of the bone with a knife onto toast. Bon appetite!