Recently I came to a realization that put in perspective a phenomenon of food and eating that I had been observing for years. That is, the perplexing loss of cooking skill among the current generation. I had what I might call an unusual upbringing with regards to food due to my parent’s disparate heritages. For me the best food was almost always at home, rather than out at a restaurant. This still holds true today. Many meals are better cooked at home than bought, restaurant & bar food too often too expensive and usually lacking in taste.
Furthermore such observations as “vegetables taste bad” or “European/British/etc food is bland” had always made no sense to me, I had assumed that the people around me were either addicted to sugar and soft drinks, or simply suffering from extremely bad cooking. But I no longer think this is the case. The rise of food from other cultures can be traced back, I believe, to the decline in our own.
Nutritionists have trotted out discovery after discovery about what is and isn’t bad for us. These have almost always been taken back later when new findings were added to the old. Nutrition is a study that is singularly unsuited for the scientific method, as almost every nutrient never acts alone, food is a combination of many many different amino aids, carbohydrates, proteins and other things. These interact with each other in our food and our body. The scientific method of isolating each factor can create very skewed results.
These results are declared prematurely. The declaration that eggs were not healthy created a huge market for replacement egg products, but it was nowhere near as damaging as the declaration that fat is the enemy of health.
Fat is used by all cultures in cooking, and no less in that of the west. If anyone has watched their grandmother prepare food they can understand this. Mashed potato, a common staple for many families in the anglosphere was once made with mashed potatoes and butter. The butter made it far more palatable, even delicious. But when fat was declared the enemy, this practice was stopped. Some replaced it with milk or something else, but it simply wasn’t the same.
Furthermore, many products that normally contained fat now wanted to get rid of this so they could have a 99% fat free label, a selling point in a market where fat is the ultimate enemy. But since fat adds and brings out flavor in a similar way to salt, it had to be replaced with something else. Since fat was out of the question and salt can only go so far without something else, sugar was the replacement. This is especially true of American food but it can be found in other places. Sugar replaced fat on a monumental scale. But sugar can only be added to certain dishes. Many formerly delicious dishes are no longer delicious because they are lacking a major ingredient (fat). Is it any wonder that other cultures cooking overtook that of the Anglosphere? (And the wider west, I believe).
Younger generations believe that vegetables are tasteless and bland for the most part. The answer is that they are not, they require just a little bit of meat, or fat to become absolutely delicious. But few people cook them that way any more.
Bring back fat.