I decided to bake some strawberry shortcakes. One of the recipes I looked up called for shortening. As I will be serving these shortcakes to vegetarians, I substituted a veggie-friendly option. But the idea of shortening called to mind a story from way back in the wilds of my first year at Simon’s Rock.
I believe it was someone’s birthday. I’m not sure. My friend Maggie and I were, for some reason, at the local grocery store buying a boatload of food for something or other, including ingredients for a cake. I distinctly remember being in the refrigerated aisle trying to find the cheapest butter.
(This is in no way relevant to the story, but always bothered me: the store had a logo that was supposed to look like an axe hacking a slice out of a coin but actually looked like a wedge of cheese being served up. Clearly they were so cheap they couldn’t afford to get a real graphic designer.)
There was a sea of butter. A plethora. A cornucopia of butter options. We were overwhelmed by packaging with friendly Indian ladies, lucky clovers, and happy cows, repeated over and over on down the refrigerated aisle until we stood dizzy and shivering before it. Finally we found the cheapest one, the store’s name brand in a plain white wrapper. We chucked it in the cart and hurried on.
Later, as we began to assemble the food, we took the butter from the fridge. The first thing I noticed was that, unlike normal butter, it was not in sticks. Then I realized that what we had purchased was awfully white for butter. Slowly, a thought began to form.
After The Incident we occasionally tried to blame it on confusion between the Spanish word for butter (mantequilla) and the Spanish word for what we bought (manteca.) The label may in fact have had Spanish on it, but it definitely had English as well. And it said LARD.
Yes, yes we did bake a lard cake. And it was DELICIOUS. But that isn’t how the story ends.
We called our families to tell them about the lard cake. It became one of those funny (well, mildly amusing) stories you tell about your first year at college. Trouble was, even after the lard cake we still had about half a pound of lard sitting in the fridge. Mocking us. (Whitely.) Maggie’s mom suggested we make biscuits with it. Apparently all biscuits are improved by lard.
So we made some lard biscuits. As we did this, someone else who lived in the dorm came in and asked if she could borrow some butter to make her fried rice. We said sure, if she didn’t mind using lard. She shrugged and commenced the fried rice. We felt a secret sense of triumph that a little more of the lard was finally gone.
While the delicious scent of lard biscuits and fried lard rice wafted throughout our communal dorm kitchen, our friend Sarah came in. Now, I don’t remember whether the next part involved a biscuit or a bit of fried rice, but it went something like this:
Sarah: “Wow, that really smells delicious…can I have some?”
Us: “Sure, but it’s made with lard.”
Sarah: “Hahahaha! No, seriously, can I?”
Us: “Go ‘head.”
Sarah: “Mmmmm! Shis ish reawwy derisshush.”
Me to Maggie, or vice versa: “See, lard makes everything better! We should use it all the time.”
Sarah, with horrified look on her face because she keeps kosher and was currently downing a food item laden with rendered pig fat: “WHAT? You mean this is ACTUALLY MADE WITH LARD?”
Us: “Um, yes, it is actually made with lard! We did try to warn you, but you were so enthusiastic!”
Sarah, in grip of existential lard angst: “I thought you were LYING!! (It is really good, though…)”
Us, laughing really, really hard: “Who lies about lard? Nobody lies about lard!”
And this is why, if I didn’t know vegetarians would be there tomorrow, I totally would have made strawberry lardcakes. But nobody lies about lard.
Originally posted on Skirt.com.