For many years now, a large part of society has openly declared war on fat. We don’t want to see it anywhere, not on our bodies or our menus. However, fat plays a critical role in the preparation of food in order to add flavor and texture. And the importance of fat in gastronomy is such that it can even be the foundation of it.
Use of fat in different cultures
Let’s think, for example, of Italian food… pesto, focaccia, salads, pastas, all foods that are prepared with olive oil. What about French food with its range of pastries and cheeses, whose source of fat is dairy products. And how about the southern United States? Some of the most iconic dishes are those prepared with pork fat.
The role of fat in the look and texture of food
It is essential to understand what fat is for when preparing food and how to use it. One important point is to know that fat imparts textures, for example, creamy (like ice cream), flaky (like pastry), crunchy (like breadcrumbs), soft (like focaccia), and light (like meringue). With this in mind, you will know how to choose the type of fat and cooking method necessary to give your dishes the presentation and texture you desire.
Fat in food and its seasoning
Another important detail is how you use it, whether as a base or for seasoning. For example, one way to know if a cut of meat is good is to identify the “marbling” of fat, that is, those little lines of white fat that melt almost completely when placed on the grill to give the meat tenderness and flavor. Otherwise, if we use it as a seasoning, we could think of that drizzle of olive oil that we put on a caprese salad or the little pat of butter on pancakes.
Either way, any food lover must accept that fat is an essential part of good food and if we know how to use it, and use it in moderation, then as far as flavor and texture are concerned, the sky’s the limit.