HALLIE EPHRON: Once again, science triumphs. After being advised for years to shun transfats in favor of "good cholesterol" (HDL) to lower the risk of heart disease, the New York Times reported a new study finds, lo and behold, raising HDL levels makes no difference. To which I say, estrogen supplement anyone?
Never mind HDLs and transfats -- for me there are definitely good fats and bad fats. Bad fats taste bad and they leave a greasy aftertaste. Think margarine, some brands of potato chips that shall go unnamed, and most store bought donuts. I can easily imagine their fat coating my arteries just like they coat the roof of my mouth.
Good fats taste rich and yum-shish, to use the technical term. Think butter, olive oil, and beignets from Cafe Du Monde in New Orleans. Also chicken fat. Really. If you don't like chopped liver, it's probably because you've never had it made with freshly rendered chicken fat.
I never needed an excuse to eat avocados or shrimp or salmon which were, until recently, supposedly brimming with good-for-you fats. And despite the bad-for-you label, there's simply no better tasting pie crust than one made with lard.
So here we all are, once again bewildered in the supermarket, trying to make healthy choices and foiled at every turn. As in all things, I turn to Julia Child for wisdom: "Everything in moderation, including moderation."
Another of her quotes which I find often comes in handy: "Every woman should have a blowtorch."
So Reds, where are you on the fat question? Have you shifted to "good fats," and where does this latest bit of wisdom from the medical community leave you?
LUCY BURDETTE: Well, when I'm cooking I go through organic olive oil like crazy. Although, if you read all the buzz about what's really EVOO, you could get frozen on that subject too. And we eat butter in moderation--mostly organic unless the prices are way out of this world. And cheese. I'm a cheese fanatic and I figure I can make up for that by hardly eating red meat. And trying to eat local veggies and fruit.
I think Julia was right about moderation, though I suspect her idea of moderation wasn't much like mine. And I don't care for chicken livers Hallie, but I'll try your pate one day. The thing that's got me going in circles these days is being fair to the animals we eat. Sigh. The old farming days were so simple, weren't they? And they didn't write blogs about their meals either :).
RHYS BOWEN: We've always eaten butter and cheese, although in moderation. Always cook with olive oil these days and eat very little red meat. But I'm becoming more and more concerned about the antibiotics fed to animals and chickens, since we're reading so much about resistant super bugs. And like Lucy, I'm going through a moral crisis about eating animals at all. But I do adore pate, Hallie. And lamb chops. Sigh.
HALLIE: I so agree, Rhys. IMHO, fat on a lamb chop is in its own category: sublime fat.
RHYS: If you decide on no meat because of steroids and antibiotics
No fish because of mercury
No plants because of pesticides
There isn't much left. Now we read that all organics are not truly organic. Buy a small farm and raise my own everything, I suppose.
JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: We actually have friends who have, if not a small farm, free-range chickens and turkeys. We get the most wonderful eggs for them. I'd love to go organic, etc, but frankly, with my food budget including two teens, one eleven-year-old who's starting to eat like a teen, and whichever of their friends who happen to be around at dinner time, I just can't afford it. Now the Smithie is home, we went through FOUR GALLONS OF MILK IN ONE WEEK.
My solution to eating healthy on a budget has always been to use meat in a Mediterranean way - as an accent to the rest of the dish. So we have pasta with a little chicken, rice with a little beef, stew with a little pork. Always the real stuff - butter, olive oil, real cheese. As someone smarter than me pointed out, we've been eating "fat-free" for the past thirty years - so why are Americans fatter than ever?
DEBORAH CROMBIE: I've always been an "unprocessed food" nut. I use butter, unsalted organic, usually, on my toast and the few other things that MUST have butter. Bake about twice a year, but use butter when I do. Cook with EVOO--actually it's more like "everything tastes better with olive oil on it"--but who knows if it's really EVOO unless you've grown the olives? I don't use cream much since I don't tend to cook many saucey things and I put milk in my tea, but I usually keep some organic half and half in the fridge just in case something needs a splash.
Tough choices these days. I'd go with Julia, except like Lucy, I suspect her idea of moderation was not mine:-)
Do you all remember "Julie and Julia" from a couple of years ago, where the woman cooked all four hundred some odd recipes from Mastering the Art of French Cooking in a year? Talk about butter overload!
JAN BROGAN: If you just wait long enough everything that was determined bad for you will be declared health food. Or its low-fat non-fat substitute will be declared much worse. I'm holding out for the study that says bacon adds years to your life.
DEBS: I'm with Jan on the bacon. I just wish it wasn't so damned much trouble to clean up after you cook it!
JULIA: As far as I'm concerned, better sixty-five years with bacon than eighty-five with toasted kasha.
ROSEMARY HARRIS: There really isn't anything that I will absolutely stay away from although I probably only eat meat once or twice a year. And it's hardly filet mignon - Once a year I must have pepperoni pizza.
I can't be trusted with a hunk of cheese (it will disappear in record time no matter how thin I shave the slices) so I try not buy it except for parties. But it's not the fat, it's the calories.
Bacon..haven't had it for years. Pate..used to love..I've had it once in the last 15 years.
What was the question again..? Butter? Love it. Scary how much of it I go through when I'm baking, but just to spread it on good bread..only if I've had so much wine that I'm no longer capable of making a good decision.
HALLIE: Latest news bulletin for Dr. Oz: Raspberry ketones are a miracle fat burner. No, you cannot get enough by eating raspberries -- you have to eat 90 pounds of raspberries to get the equivalent of a 100 mg capsule raspberry ketone. Apparently it's effective "especially when paired with regular exercise and a well-balanced diet of healthy foods." Hey, bacon is effective when paired it with a exercise and a diet, too.
So where are you with fat? Had you embraced HDLs? Given up butter? Or are you a lard-fried Twinkie die-hard?