What do so many people have against lard? Commenters have pointed out that a big reason lard fell into disrepute in the middle of the last century was because of its association with poverty. I think that’s at least partly true. If you look around at all the places where lard was popular in the early 20th century (the American south, rural Mexico, Hungary, Italy, Spain, the list goes on…), one thing that was common to them all was poverty. As I’ve written before, pigs are terrific poor peoples’ food. They’re easy to take care of, they grow quickly, breed prolifically and eat just about anything.
Today poor peoples’ food is all the rage (except of course among the poor). The reason: because people of wealth no longer differentiate themselves by avoiding the habits of poor folk. In fact quite the reverse is true. Today’s rich people adopt the clothing, language, music and cuisine of poor people to demonstrate authenticity.
Foodwise, the cuisine of poor Mexicans , poor Hungarians, poor Italians and poor Spaniards (the list goes on…) is today widely known and celebrated. However there’s at least one group of poor people who cultivate a cuisine that nobody celebrates, at least not with a straight face: American poor people. Or perhaps I should say modern American poor people, especially those in the Appalachians and southern US. These unfortunate folks are the yokels not just of their own nation, but of many other nations besides. It’s a heavy burden they bear, and it’s for a variety of reasons, one of which is that they will — and often do — eat lard. I think that most of us in the States, if we’re honest with ourselves, will admit to having an instant hillbilly/hick association with the word “lard.” Does that make us all closeted “lardists” in some way?
I think it does, and I suggest that to atone for our unjust and unwarranted discrimination against a subgroup that doesn’t deserve it, we all eat more lard.