Ron Rosenbaum has written a contrarian defense of fat-the-ingredient. (Via Mark Bittman, who so could have torn this apart, but must have better things to do.) The only problem is, Rosenbaum's straw-man is non-existent or, at best, long-gone. These days, there is no war on fat. There's a war on sugar. There's a war on "carbs." There's a war on processed food, including trans-fats. There's shaming of fat people. But there's no war on "split-shank beef marrow." Hardly!
Rosenbaum speaks of "another world of fatty foods, a world beyond bacon and barbecue—not the froufrou fatty foods of foodies either, but basic, earthy, luxuriant fatty foods like roast goose, split-shank beef marrow and clotted cream," as if it's 1992 and everyone who was anyone sought out 'gourmet.' What he mentions as the honest middle-ground are the "foodie" favorites. Has Rosenbaum missed farm-to-fork? Local-seasonal? Michael Pollan? Is he not as up-to-date as I am on Leonard Lopate's "Food Fridays," and if so, who's walking his hyperactive dog? (Thanks to Bisou, I am beyond up-to-date on podcasts.)
Or perhaps he's conflating today's food-movement with an earlier yuppie approach to food, albeit one it diametrically opposes:
Eating fatty foods has become the culinary version of "Breaking Bad": a dangerous walk on the wild side for the otherwise timid consumers of tasteless butter substitutes and Lean Cuisine. Soon the fear-of-food crowd will leave us with nothing but watery prison gruel (whole grain, of course) and the nine daily servings of kale, collards, spinach and other pesticide-laced and e-coli-menaced greens and fruits on the agribusiness-promoted "food pyramid."The kale people and the margarine people, so not the same! The kale people are telling you to add lots of real-food fat to the kale!
Except when they're not. Jane Brody and others do continue to preach the gospel of lite, because old habits die hard. Rosenbaum's addressing something that hasn't entirely disappeared. There certainly was an anti-fat-the-ingredient time, and it wasn't that long ago. I was raised in those Tasti-D-Liteful years, when sugar might be added to salad dressings in lieu of too much oil, and some of that still lingers. I went off diet Coke (and onto SodaStream seltzer - plain water, in time) ages ago, and add plenty of butter or olive oil to my food. I wouldn't think of alternatives to ice cream. But I still buy skim milk, because that's the taste I'm used to. Because that's what I buy. I only ever think about this when baking, and it will occur to me that cannelés probably won't work with skim. However, given how often cannelés have happened (that would be once), I'm not too worried about it.