Sparky Sweets, Hungry Women, and Duck Fat

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September 10, 2015 by libroshombre

A pal of mine recently passed along an article about Thug Notes, a YouTube series in which classic literature is explained in street terms by Sparky Sweets, PhD. This will be seen by some as treating great books with undue irreverence and being in poor taste. Dr. Sweets’ take on Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice,” for examplFeatured imagee, begins, “Set in nineteenth-century British high society, we watch a buncha women hustlin’ to make sure dat da world don’t do ‘em dirty and leave ‘em without sommodat cheddar. Now ain’t nobody know if Austen was throwin’ shade at a cash-obsessed society where woman was jus’ chasin’ grands, or if she actually support it. She slangin’ her own special kind of irony dat schola’s been geekin’ out ‘bout for years.”

Is Thug Notes worth noting? A lot depends on how you look at it. Sweets is played by comedian Greg Edwards who said, “thFeatured imagee truth is, the gift of literature is universal in meaning and should be made accessible to everyone on every plane. So ‘Thug Notes’ is my way of trivializing academia’s attempt at making literature exclusionary by showing that even high-brow academic concepts can be communicated in a clear and open fashion.”

Thug Notes’ goal of demonstrating literature’s relevance in an amusing manner works along the same lines as the Alaska Guys Read program. For ten years Guys Read volunteers have showed over 5,000 local 4th grade boys how much fun books and reading can be by sharing heavily-illustrateFeatured imaged “boy-friendly books” and donating copies of the books to the school libraries. 4th grade’s when many boys stop reading for pleasure, but Guys Read’s approach helps counter that. The two-week Fall Guys Read program begins September 29, and men interested in volunteering a couple of lunchtimes can visit GuysGalsRead.org or attend one of the half-hour orientation sessions at Noel Wien Library September 14-19 from Noon-2PM.

However, men interested in sparking with ladies will want to consider Drexel University’s researFeatured imagech and make dinner reservations. According to “Stomach Is the Way to a Woman’s Heart, Too,” a ScienceDaily.com article from last month, “women’s brains respond more to romantic cues on a full stomach than on an empty one.” In addition, “brains of women with a history of dieting responded more dramatically to positive food cues as compared to women who had never dieted or were currently dieting.”

Those ladies might not be interested in the discovery of fat as the sixth taste, after sweet, sour, bitter, salty, and umami, which is Japanese for “pleasant savory taste.” “Oleogustus” is the official name for this fatty taste, and to qualify as a primFeatured imageary taste, according to the NPR article, “Scientists Make the Case For a 6th Taste – But It’s Less Than Tasty,” “a flavor needs to have a unique chemical signature, trigger specific receptors on our taste buds,” and it must be distinguishable from other tastes.”

Oleogustus measures up, having the rancid taste of “oxidized oil,” but the texture, the “mouthfeel” if you will, is pleasing to our palates. It’s taste “actually operates as a protective mechanism of sorts, offering a warning sign to stop eating … a bit like bitterness … But in the right context, bitterness adds to the overall appeal of chocolate, of coffee, of wine, of many of the foods that we enjoy.”

Featured image            Duck fat aficionados believe it ought to be a primary taste. I first encountered duck fat in southwestern France, where it was cooked with grated potatoes and onions. Love at first taste. Duck fat’s high in good unsaturated fat, low in evil saturated fat, and while a lot of any fat’s a bad idea, as Dr. Alejandro Marangoni, food science professor at the University of Guelph, put it, “All in all, duck fat is a good fat … I actually have a jar in my fridge.”

Me, too, and it’s gorgeous. Duck fat can even be strained through cheesecloth and reused after producing amazingly good freedom fries, which I first briefly parboil and dry, and afterwards dust with ground saFeatured imagelt and rosemary. As Ralph Waldo Emerson pointed out, “Love of beauty is taste. The creation of beauty is art.

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