Normally, I'm a gastronomical daredevil. I'll try anything, with the exception of liver-related items or balut (if you don't know what that is and you don't have a sensitive stomach, go here), but no matter how culinary cool it is, I don't know that I can bring myself to cook with the new food of the moment, lard. From Slashfood:
"The truth is that lard in small amounts can actually be good for you--it contains nearly a quarter less saturated fat than butter, no trans fats, and helps to balance the types of polyunsaturated fats in our diets. Its high smoke point makes it perfect for frying and sautéeing, while its low water content and tendency to melt into large crystals results in tender, flaky pastries."
Let me be perfectly frank: the idea of lard makes my throat go tight and my head go a little swimmy. I avoid wedding and grocery store cakes because some bakers use lard instead of butter. I can't deal with McDonalds' shakes because the way they coat my mouth reminds me too much of lard. I have thrown out a very delicious pie after realizing that there was lard used in the pie crust.(Try this delicious (and healthy) blueberry pie recipe that definitely does not use lard.)
The whole reason is this: when I was 11 years old and experimenting in the kitchen, my mother had a cake pan in the shape of a Santa. It was extremely old and it came with a frosting recipe and food coloring and a piping bag. The frosting recipe instructed you to use lard, so I dug around in the pantry until I found a big waxy brick of the stuff on a top shelf in the back. I then followed the recipe to the letter, working it with a manual egg beater (we didn't have an electric mixer because we were hippies), combining it with the powdered sugar and vanilla. The thing is: I knew that it was lard, so I couldn't even bring myself to taste it out of the bowl. It was lard. I saw it go in there, all the lardiness, and sure, I added a lot of sugar, but it was still lard. I figured that I had eaten lard unknowingly all of my life, because I loved cake frosting, so I would just have it on the cake.
Then I separated the frosting and created red, green and black with the food coloring. I practiced making stars and basket weaves on a grocery bag and then set about making the Santa cake. It wasn't really identifiable when was finished because my piping technique left much to be desired (and still does, quite frankly) but it was a cake that was definitely frosted. Frosted with lard. I cut myself a piece of Santa's boot, took a forkful into my mouth, swallowed under much duress and then ran to the bathroom to disgorge. Now, maybe I hadn't considered or didn't understand the possibility that the lard could have been rancid, or maybe the whole mouth-coaty chalky thing is just something I can't get my mind around, but yeah, me and lard? Not so much.
Related: Taking what you've got, and making lemon cake.
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