Stalking the Waiter

Riffing on foods, flavors and methods, that would be telling.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Philosophizing even more than usual...

Reducing Fat

We all need some fat in our diets. Our livers need it to function. Our skin and hair would be very dry and unattractive without it. For those people with a "fat tooth," though, it's probably very difficult to give up the fatty mouthfeel that reduced fat preparation eliminates.

Perhaps I should have called this section, "Reducing Oiliness." Because that's more my concern that reducing the actual fat content, i.e., it's not a health or calorie thing. It's a mouthfeel thing. My vinaigrette would make a chef weep, not with joy, but in sorrow. I may use a very good oil and a rich full bodied vinegar, but my preferred proportions are two parts vinegar, three parts oil and one part water. Yes, water. I dislike the feel of oily greens, and I like the lightness increasing the vinegar and adding water give. It's my dressing. I'm not trying to make anyone else use it. Well, that's a lie. ;+) I've given that recipe out enough times.

There are those of us who don't have a fat tooth, who have never liked greasy foods, for whatever reason, who would like to occasionally buy prepared foods or baked goods but find them too oily. However, most low fat prepared foods are either so "fat free" as to be totally unpalatable - fat is where the flavor is much of the time - or they've got that unctuous mouthfeel to the point that it's like eating a bowl of lard. Fake lard.

Let me say, the thought of eating fake fat makes me queasy. No criticism of those folks who don't mind it, but I can't do it, at least not knowingly. I don't understand why food makers can't just cut back on the fat. Why do they have to replace fat with some manufactured chemical substitute? Why does it have to be "fat free"? Why can't they just reduce the fat?

Most recipes are still good with less fat and much better for you than eating Frankenfat, I'm sure. And breading, for that matter, all too often present in fried types of dishes - could we have a low fat version that isn't breaded and has less real fat and no fake fat? Does Chicken Marsala not taste just as delicious without the breading? INMSHO, it does.

Reducing Sweetness

Then there's cutting down on sugar. In this country, can't vouch for elsewhere, sweetened foods are sweetened to a tooth aching degree. Soft drinks, cakes, candies, cookies and so on are far sweeter than they need to be to make the recipe work. A certain amount of sugar is required to make a cake a cake or a candy a candy. I know this. But, obviously, the "sweet tooth" folks are running that part of the food industry.

Probably told this story before, but one of my friends had just put the last of a triple batch of Toll House Cookies into the oven and was cleaning up, when she found the bowl of white sugar sitting behind the flour bag. So, half as much sugar, and that half the less sweet brown, and the cookies were wonderful. Really, some of the best I'd ever had. Of course, I'd always thought the recipe used too much sugar but, still, a perfect example. Do I use white sugar in my Toll House Cookies? Not anymore.

So why can't they make reduced sugar products rather than just replacing the sugar with an artificial sweetener, which is almost always disgusting?

On the other hand...

Why do people go overboard? Sugar FREE! Fat FREE! Safeway has a flavored sparkling water. When it first came out, I tried the peach. Ambrosia. Really. Delicate, fragrant peach flavor with fizz. Just about perfect for my tastes. Then, I don't know, the sugar police closed them down??? For several years now, they've only made the "sugar free" flavored waters. Ack, ack, ack. Put a nasty tasting chemical in with that beautiful, delicate peach flavor? What were they thinking? How much sugar did they think was in there that they had to, for the good of the free world, remove it entirely and put in drek to replace it?

I can do reduce fat and sugar and eliminate breading or batter coatings in my own kitchen, so it's not a major issue for me. But you just have to wonder. (Shhh. No one mention my addiction to Popeye's Fried Chicken.)

And another thing...

While I'm complaining, what's with so many restaurants putting soooo much salt in the food? Do they not realize there are salt shakers on the tables (or you can get little packets at the fast food places)? And, darn it, we're mostly smart enough to figure out how to use them.