In Praise of Fat

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A friend once disclosed private information to us about her sorority. She told of a house vote that took place where the girls chose to never have dessert served after dinner. No dessert. Ever. But how can that be? She replied casually, "It is just better for everyone."

As surprising as this may seem, sweets are a common focus of our anxieties. Women opt for "just a tiny sliver" of pie and holding a cupcake isn't exactly considered manly. In a world obsessed with body images and calorie counting, it is no wonder fats and sugars are avoided like Friday afternoon discussion sections.

Even so, there is an undeniably strong attraction toward the foods we fear. A piece of chocolate cake, dark and moist, evokes a certain carnal desire. When we repress these urges, they often return with a vengeance, fostering feelings of guilt and regret. What about the sorority girl who lives for brownies? That vote must certainly have been painful-how could her sisters not consider her feelings? Butter and sugar need not be a source of embarrassment. After all, a balanced diet really does mean balanced-protein, carbohydrates, fruits, vegetables, and let's not forget about fat.

There are many great reasons to love fat and start embracing it as a part of your diet. The human body requires a certain amount to maintain healthy skin and hair. Furthermore, your body uses fatty tissue to absorb and store essential vitamins. Therefore, drastically cutting back on one's fat intake could have a negative effect on one's health.

Furthermore, the use of butter and olive oil in one's cooking can undoubtedly lead to healthier eating habits. Fats taste great and make other things taste great too. Thought you didn't like butternut squash? Try roasting one in the oven with butter and brown sugar and you will be pleasantly surprised. Butter also does wonders in an herb sauce drizzled over asparagus, and if you haven't tried potatoes fried in duck fat you are missing out, friend. Kids probably hate vegetables because they are so often prepared dry and fat-free. There is nothing wrong with a bit of oil or butter used as flavoring. Is it better to force down three green beans or to eat twelve, dipped in aioli? Your call. Aioli is basically like the original mayonnaise, in case you were wondering.

So, what kinds of fats are out there? Three of our favorites are olive oil, butter and bacon fat. Olive oil is undeniably excellent for maintaining great health. Numerous studies have shown the cardiovascular benefits of a diet rich in olive oil. The Guiness Book of World Records credits the longest life to a recently deceased French woman named Jeanne Calment, who consumed large amount of olive oil on a daily basis and even rubbed the oil into her skin as a moisturizer. Another great fat, butter, adds wonderful flavor and tastes fabulous. You can easily make your own butter, at home or in the dorms, by shaking cream and salt in a jar until curds begin to form. Alternatively, you could roll down memorial glade with your jar or get a friend to shake it while bored in class.

Bacon fat is perhaps the most flavorful of all. The introduction of swine to the southern portion of the United States jump-started the use of this delicious ingredient. Cornbread, biscuits and gravy all benefit from its presence. With the onset of the Great Depression, the use of bacon fat spread to the North, as frugal Yankees learned from their Southern compatriots. Broke college students can learn from this as well. We fully believe in and support cooking with bacon fat today.

We certainly aren't advocating the consumption of an entire pie each day, but clearly, fat is not something to fear. A bit of butter and a splash of olive oil are both part of a healthy diet. Plus, they taste fantastic. So stay on the elliptical for an extra ten minutes so that you can indulge a little and not fret about it. And to that sorority girl who loves brownies, creep into your kitchen in the middle of the night and use this recipe to make them. Your housemates will thank you in the morning.

Sorority Brownies

In a bowl, mix together 2 large eggs, 1 cup sugar, 4 ounces melted butter, one-half cup cocoa powder, one-fourth cup flour and a pinch of salt. Bake for 40 minutes at 325 degrees.

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Spend an extra 10 minutes on the elliptical with Maria and Graham at [email protected]



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