No other food is as nutritionally crucial, symbolically important or controversial as fat. Butter, oil, tallow, lard, schmaltz – culinary fats have not only shaped world cuisines, they are themselves steeped in cultural and symbolic meanings. From Palaeolithic times to contemporary popular culture, fats have been simultaneously essential to life and a decadent indulgence. Alternately reviled and revered, fats have been linked to both power and poverty, and associated with sex and death.
Fats: A Global History tells the story of this extraordinary substance. In her engaging and wide-ranging account, Michelle Phillipov considers the changing fates and fortunes of fats across time and around the globe. From their past associations with prestige and social authority, to their links to the food industry practices and health scares of the twentieth century, to fat’s current renaissance in media and popular culture, she explores the complex meanings, debates and controversies that have surrounded this most basic of foods.
Featuring a selection of recipes from around the world, Fats reveals the sometimes surprising history of the cultural life of culinary fat.
Michelle Phillipov is a DECRA Research Fellow and Senior Lecturer in Journalism, Media and Communications at the University of Tasmania, Australia. Her previous publications include Death Metal and Music Criticism: Analysis at the Limits (2012).