[Sca-cooks] Favorite Healthy period dishes

Phil Troy / G. Tacitus Adamantius adamantius.magister at verizon.net
Mon Aug 14 18:57:16 PDT 2006

On Aug 14, 2006, at 8:13 PM, Anne-Marie Rousseau wrote:

> On why fat is in a recipe in period:
> I think Adamantius has a couple good ideas:
> 1. flavor. Now, marrow doesn't have a lot of flavor (at least not that
> I've noticed)

Hmmm. I'd say it's got a richness (almost like brains), and some hard- 
to-pinpoint quality that isn't easily identified as a flavor itself,  
but related, like MSG, truffles, etc., more noticeable in the  
presence of other foods. I think it has a "concentrated meat"  
aromatic quality.

> but suet does. Less than butter, granted, but still
> there's a beefy flavor to it. Lard is different... fats also allow the
> flavors to meld nicely. Many spices are fat soluble and without the  
> fat,
> you don't get the same flavors.
> 2. texture. Definitely. Especially suet, which would re-solidify  
> nicely.
> Better than butter, even. Marrow? I have to admit I've never let
> anything with marrow sit long enough to cool to find out ;). And  
> cutting
> the fat would seriously change the "mouthfeel" of the dish. Not
> necessarily a bad thing from the modern mindset, but our medieval
> counterparts would definitely notice (whether they would prefer it or
> not I'm not sure)
> 3. consistency of the final product. I still think this is the biggest
> reason. Less fat makes a crumbly product, difficult to eat and you end
> up with a bit of meat and then a bit of fruit. Not the fun meat/fruit
> bite all in one. Definitely a different end product.
> 4. preservation. You can use fat to reduce exposure to the air and
> thereby protect the contents from spoilage. This is the same process
> that is used in potted meats, pates, etc. reducing the fat would
> seriously reduce the shelf life of the product.
> Can anyone think of other reasons?

One thing I didn't go into earlier, because it's a complex issue and  
still not 100% applicable for us, is simple caloric value. These are  
people who lived without central heating, sometimes in climates  
somewhat colder than ours, and burned a lot of their calories simply  
remaining at 98.6.

Now, note that I never said that the fat content of many of these  
dishes should not be kept to reasonable, and sometimes minimal  
levels. My concern would be for leaving ingredients out or  
drastically reducing them as an informed choice for health reasons  
without fully understanding why they're there in the first place, and  
the informed choices that put them there in the first place, which  
may or may not be outweighed by the imperative to produce healthy  
food. And I'd like to see this decision made and presented with  
intellectual honesty.


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