A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from May 10, 2009
“Fat is flavor’ ("Fat equals flavor")

"Fat is flavor” or “fat equals flavor” (also with the English spelling “fat is flavour” or “fat equals flavour") is a popular food expression for cooking meat. Many people order lean meats, but food professionals insist that “fat is flavor.” The expression is less frequently used with other foods.

“Fat is flavor” is cited in print from at least 1988; the phrase has been increasingly popular since the mid-1990s.


Fat is flavor
from the rooter to the tooter
(Food blog began in February 2003—ed.)

Google Books
Everyday Health Tips: 2000 practical hints for better health and happiness
By Debora Tkac, Kim Edward Anderson
Published by Rodale Press
1988
Pg. 88:
But that “fat-is-flavor” theory is yesterday’s thinking.

10 April 1991, Altoona (PA) Mirror, “The Butcher” column by Merle Ellis, pg. D6, col. 1:
Fat is where the flavor is and the more consumer demand has gone to lean beef, the more the beef industry has gone to producing beef without much flavor.

Google Books
So Fat, Low Fat, No Fat
By Betty Rohde
New York, NY: Simon and Schuster
1995
Pg. 38:
Fat is flavor. When you take out the fat, you need to add more herbs to enhance the flavor.

8 November 1995, Washington (DC) Post, “What In The World Has Happened To Steak?” by Carole Sugarman:
Because in steak, as in many foods, fat equals flavor; the less fat in that New York strip steak, the less flavor in our dinner.

19 December 1996, Chicago (IL) Daily Herald, section 4, pg. 3, col. 3:
Excuse me, but has (Jenny—ed.) Craig ever heard the concept fat equals flavor? One wonders whether these diet gurus haven’t killed their taste buds with blandness.

Google Groups: uk.food+drink.misc
Newsgroups: uk.food+drink.misc
From: (Matthew Malthouse)
Date: 2000/11/14
Subject: Re: Bonfire Toffee

There is also the old adage of “fat equals flavour.”

New York (NY) Daily News
A MARBLED MONUMENT TO GOOD TIMES
Prime rib takes time, but it’s terrific for a big night
BY ROSEMARY BLACK
Sunday, December 16th 2001, 2:24AM
It’s beef at its best: juicy, tender and flavorful. But prime rib isn’t found very often in restaurants these days, and it’s such a big cut that many home cooks think it’s unwieldy. Still, for the cook with time and patience, it makes a wonderful special-occasion entree. “People love it, but restaurants don’t want to be bothered by it,” says Joe Cerniglia, chef at Gallagher’s Steak House, which serves enormous portions of prime rib. “It’s hard to know how many people will be ordering it. It takes two or three hours to roast, and when you’re out, you’re out.”

A whole, cleaned prime rib has seven ribs, weighs between 15 and 20 pounds and serves a dozen or more, explains Cerniglia. When looking for prime rib at the butcher, remember that “fat equals flavor,” he says: “Prime rib develops more marbling than any other cut of beef, and all the flavor is stored in the intramuscular fat, which is why prime rib has such a robust flavor. It doesn’t dry out.”

New York (NY) Times
Cooking in the Kitchen Of My Favorite Critic
By ERIC ASIMOV
Published: Wednesday, April 24, 2002
(...)
Mom’s loathing of fat causes her to squeeze, trim or blot it out of every dish she cooks. Despite the accepted wisdom that fat equals flavor, she manages to find the flavor somewhere else. When you are cooking pork bellies, though, the flavor is going to come from fat.

I knew this, and yet I persisted in bringing pork bellies into my mother’s kitchen, an act that I suppose qualifies as not-so-passively aggressive. Needless to say, as I started to cut the bellies into small chunks, she exclaimed, ‘’But they are all fat!’’

‘’Oh, it disappears in the cooking,’’ I responded, though she wasn’t fooled for a moment. I was trimming off the layer of thick skin, which I had considered trying to turn into chicharrones, a fancy name for fried pork skins, but now it didn’t seem like such a good idea.

Google Books
Cooking School Secrets for Real World Cooks
By Linda Carucci
Chronicle Books
2005
Pg. 40:
The old cooking-school adage, “Fat is flavor,” can be extended. In fact, fat also magnifies flavor.

LA (CA) Weekly
Ask Mr. Gold
Jonathan Gold
Published on January 12, 2006
(...)
Shalimar’s location, in a particularly hooker-intensive stretch of the Tenderloin, is in a place only William T. Vollmann could love, and its greasy, smoky cuisine is certainly flavorful, as long as you remember that the cooking-school adage “Fat is flavor” also has its corollary.

The StarPhoenix (Saskatoon, Canada)
When it comes to ribs, fat equals flavour
Eric Akis, CanWest News Service
Published: Tuesday, June 20, 2006
VICTORIA—I’m a pork rib enthusiast who routinely creates new ways to flavour them. On a recent sunny afternoon I developed two new recipes.

The first was called four-flavour spare ribs that I started in the oven and finished on the barbecue. It incorporates the salty, sweet, sour and hot flavours found in many Chinese dishes. Pork spare or side ribs anchor the dish. These types of ribs, commonly used in Chinese recipes, are cut from the belly and, although quite meaty, are also fattier than pork back ribs. But fat equals flavour and as the ribs cook, it melts and deliciously infuses the meat.

New York (NY) Times
THE MINIMALIST; The Boring Old Broiler Turns Out to Be a Superstar
By MARK BITTMAN
Published: January 31, 2007
(...)
First of all, forget about broiler pans and aluminum foil. As everyone knows, the pan is nearly impossible to clean (which explains the aluminum foil), and it’s designed to allow the valuable juices—mostly fat, but, hey, fat is flavor—drip through the grate and into the bottom. What good are the juices doing you there? The problem with most of today’s meat is not too much fat but too little, so there’s no need to get rid of it.

Get Your Grill On
Is Fat Flavour?
Posted by Neil Murray March 25, 2008
If you watch enough cooking shows, you would have most certainly heard the term, sort of a television cook’s mantra – fat is flavour, usually when there is some fat appearing in their recipes, possibly to assuage one’s guilt about eating it. But really, do they make you want to nip down to the local supermarket, buy a tub of lard and pop great dripping spoonfuls into your mouth to experience this so called flavour? Probably not. So what are all those cooks really talking about when they say fat is flavour?
(...)
So why do television presenters persist with the fat is flavour mantra? It comes down to mouth feel and texture. Fat lubricates meat for example, making it easier to chew as muscle fibres slip apart and also makes it seem juicy at the same time. Have you ever noticed how a lean cut of meat such as veal, seems to become dry after very little chewing and how we place a premium on well marbled steak, waygu being the supreme example? At the same time, fat is also carrying flavours to all parts of your mouth and helping to keep them there. It’s the reason why we like to butter our bread

It is this double whammy effect that fat gives to our food that makes it seem extra tasty. Fat is flavour? Not really, but food just wouldn’t be the same without it.

Google Books
Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking
By Michael Ruhlman
New York, NY: Simon and Schuster
2009
Pg. 165:
FAT-BASED SAUCES
Fat is flavor.
Fat is texture.
Fat gives dishes succulence, richness.
Fat is the component that makes a dish satisfying, and the fat-based sauces are among the most satisfying preparations in the kitchen and also among the most versatile.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityFood/Drink • (0) Comments • Sunday, May 10, 2009 • Permalink