Nobody likes fat. Either that or everybody does. It’s hard to figure out which. Really it depends on the circumstance in which you catch people, talking about it or actually eating it. In principle nobody likes fat. You hear it from nutritionally educated types all the time: Oh my family and I avoid fats wherever we can. Of course the next phrase out of their mouths is usually: Pass the dip. The thing is, there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with fat. It is in fact crucial for the proper functioning of our metabolisms. It’s over-indulgence in fat that gets a lot of us into trouble.
But what exactly is it that makes fat so attractive to human beings? It’s an interesting question. For loving fat doesn’t make you fat, weak, lazy or, er…from Kentucky. It simply means it’s something you enjoy, and that’s nothing to be ashamed of.
Fat is one of the four base building blocks of the animal diet (the others being water, carbohydrates and protein). Animals use fats as energy storage devices in the same way that plants employ carbohydrates. Yet ounce for ounce fat packs in twice the calories, which is clearly why animals on this Earth evolved to eat other animals: there’s a much bigger caloric payoff in a gazelle than there is in a patch of grass. So then, fat = energy. We’re attracted to it for the same reasons we’re attracted to sugar. But fat has other characteristics that make it especially attractive to the Earth’s most culinarily advanced animals: us. More on that soon.