Lard Almighty! Pig Fat Is Back

082905 article doonan Lard Almighty! Pig Fat Is BackAck! Ack! Ack! This is that time of year when the fall trends are being machine-gunned relentlessly into our psyches. Can there be a person alive on the planet who does not know that BLACK IS BACK, and that owning a pair of flat goblin boots is about to become as vital as a pancreas?

At the last minute, however, a new, unexpected and highly provocative trend has bolted into the style arena. I’m talking about the vogue for LARD. Yes, good old-fashioned pig fat is making a sudden comeback. Lard is on everyone’s lips.

While The New York Times scribbles lard-themed Op-Eds—two in the last two weeks—New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas R. Frieden is asking local restaurants to find alternatives to processed veggie oils. Tout le monde is now saying these particular trans fats are so completely and utterly heinous for our tickers and arteries that lard is starting to look good again. According to The Times, lard “contains a very respectable 45 percent monosaturated fat—double butter’s paltry 23 or so percent.” (Monosaturated is the one that raises good cholesterol.)

Lard aside, the fact the Dr. Frieden is issuing official edicts about cooking oils is raising all kinds of questions about civil liberties. Are we entering what they call in the U.K. “the Nanny State,” where we have to be told what to do like a bunch of naughty children? I for one welcome the idea of increased supervision and general interference. Given the average American’s complete inability to show any restraint when it comes to food, I would suggest that Nanny might need to drag her big lardy butt out of retirement and head back to the nursery ASAP.

Talking of restraint: My first reaction on hearing about the lard trend was to jump in the car, drive to the Briermere Farms on the North Fork near Riverhead (directions at http://www.briermere.com), and buy one of their unbelievably delicious pies (try the strawberry rhubarb—$13.50). I reluctantly eschewed these all-American delicacies several years ago after finding out the Briermere folks used lard in their crusts, and have dreamt about them ever since.

What stopped me from heading to Briermere’s and scarfing down pie after pie in the parking lot like a lunatic? Fear of becoming squat, that’s what. We midgets have to watch our weight. For us, there is no getting away from the cruel truth that short plus fat equals squat, and who wants to be squat? Everything which is valued in our society is attenuated and tall and slender, and everything which is reviled—gnomes, trolls, etc.—is squat.

Back to lard. Here’s my prediction: This trend is not only going to catch on, it’s going to sweep the nation, eclipsing black garments and goblin boots. By the time the holidays roll around, the only acceptable hostess gift will be a bucket of organic pig drippings or a bundle of prosciutto fat. There, I’ve said it.

Speaking of prosciutto, on Aug. 18, Shelley Winters celebrated her 85th birthday with an Italian-themed blowout in honor of her two gorgeous ex-husbands, Tony Franciosa and Vittorio Gassman. No, I wasn’t invited, nor would I expect to be … not after what I once did to Shelley.

Twenty years ago, when Shelley was 65 and I was young and stupid, I clocked Shelley Winters in a Hollywood store buying a size-12 pair of leather pants. Being the world’s No. 1 Shelley fan, I could not restrain myself from eavesdropping. I overheard Miss Winters tell the sales gal she was buying the pants to hang on her refrigerator as a dietary incentive.

That evening at my aerobics class—I was a committed squat-battler, even back then—I blabbed the story of Shelley’s new dieting trick to a friend of mine who just happened to work for The National Enquirer. A week later, the tidbit appeared in her column. A week after that, I received a check from the Enquirer for $50, marked “for Shelley Winters item.” I was riddled with guilt. I felt as if I had betrayed the great two-time Oscar winner at a vulnerable point, i.e., in her battle against squatness.

I toyed with giving the money to charity or framing it. As far as I can remember, I ended up spending it on a brand-new pair of legwarmers.

Shelley, I hope you had a fab birthday and ate masses of prosciutto. Your longevity is a testament to the healthful properties of animal fat.

P.S. Regarding trans fats: I was recently conveyed by a yellow-cab driver whose identity card revealed that his name was PHAT TRAN, which one can only assume is Vietnamese for “squat cross-dresser.”