Nutrition and historical food books

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These books about all things gastronomical offer plenty of food for thought

Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient, With Recipes

Jennifer McLagan

, Jacqui Small, £18.99

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‘Fat’. it’s not a title that’s going to have much appeal for the slimming, calorie-counting masses who assuage their food guilt by tucking into ‘99 per cent fat-free’ biscuits. We suspect the author, an aficionado of all things fatty, wouldn’t be saddened by the loss of fat-averse potential readers.

The book sings the praises of all sorts of fat, with specific chapters on butter, pork fat, poultry fat and beef and lamb fats. The introduction, which aims to argue against the continued nutritional demonisation of fat, is a bit of a polemic, with too little evidence to back up the too many assertions made about heart disease, cholesterol, and health. These subjects alone could fill several volumes.

The book is stronger on the individual chapters, which are well researched and competently written. Pull-out boxes contain some fascinating facts on the likes of fat as a medium in Joseph Beuys’s sculptures, or the history of the fat-tailed sheep. The recipes are lengthy and discursive. Many, such as duck fat biscuits with cracklings or bone marrow tacos, sound quite quirky; while others, such as duck rilletes and burnt butter ice-cream, are reassuring in a fatty kind of way.

A refreshing departure from the plethora of quick, low-fat, after-work suppers books out there. It’s one for people who actually like to cook, and eat.

Susan Low, Time Out London Issue 2010: February 26-March 4 2009

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