An easier sell in the marketplace than “lard,” despite its manifest superiority:
Lard has clearly won the health debate. Shortening, the synthetic substitute foisted on this country over the last century, has proven to be a much bigger health hazard because it contains trans fats, the bugaboo du jour. Corporate food scientists figured out long ago that you can fool most of the people most of the time, and shortening (and its butter-aping cousin, margarine) had a pretty good ride after Crisco was introduced in 1911 as a substitute for the poor man’s fat. But shortening really vanquished lard in the 1950s when researchers first connected animal fat in the diet to coronary heart disease. By the ’90s, Americans had been indoctrinated to mainline olive oil, but shortening was still the go-to solid fat over lard or even butter in far too many cookbooks.
There were, of course, people who knew better:
I have to admit even I was suckered by the nutrition nuttiness, despite having been all but weaned on lard in a Mexican neighborhood in Arizona. The great Mexican cooks in kitchens on either side of our house used it to make wondrously supple flour tortillas and almost airy tamales, while my Oklahoma-born dad worked it into biscuits and melted it for frying anything in his cast-iron skillet before we could afford, as he always put it, to “eat like white folks.” (Peasant food has cachet only if you are not forced to live on it.)
The wise Latinas on my family tree would have laughed at you and your polyunsaturated whatevers and your callow faux-tallow, and would have gone on rolling out pan dulce the way they always did.
Besides, it “does not taste anything like pig,” not that there’s anything wrong with that.
(Via Muck and Mystery.)