Thursday, November 19, 2009

Random Acts of Thursday - 99 and 44/100% Pure Chicken Fat

Gym class was torture as a kid! Surely I'm not the only one who thought so...

Who could have known that novelty trivia books aren't scrupulously edited for factual content? More on that in a moment.

First, though, I made chicken the other day, and generally can't do so without singing the 'Chicken Fat' song, along with Suzanne Vega's 'Fancy Poultry Parts Sold Here...' (What? You know I'm a nerd already, so shut up). I found chicken backs at the store, a big package for two dollars (two dollars!) and since they're gelatin-laden, thought they'd add a fair amount of stock to the dinner, which I ultimately cooked with rice. I was also left with nearly a pound of pure, golden chicken fat.
Not growing up in the Great Depression or pre-war Europe, I don't have a habit of spreading this on toast. Mmm, schmaltzy! However, I do still know when throwing something out is wasteful, and I know there must be something exciting to make with this. Something that isn't just simply a matter of replacing olive oil or butter as a cooking agent. Something that won't give me some sort of coronary artery disease.

Who am I kidding? I'm probably going to have to just chuck it, but don't think for one second that I'd ever do that to my pure, snowy bacon fat. Rendering, not just a term for sketch artists. In fact, I've had some of the best French fries and donuts of my life cooked in rendered beef tallow. Um, why is my left arm tingling?
Rendered fat can be used to make soap, if you're an extra in a bad Western or just a hippie earth-mother greenie. In fact, rendering plants often render beef fat for use in soap, so you don't have to worry that I've somehow missed the opportunity for a proper segue.

So, yes, there is that urban legend that Ivory soap floats because some slacker fell asleep at the soap mixer and incorporated too much air into the bar. Not true, at least according to Proctor and Gamble, the floating was intentional. So there's that little myth debunked. And irrelevant, since changes in the soap formula have since made Ivory sink like a stone.
And really, who still takes baths for sanitation purposes? Isn't that just like making You Stew, soaking away in warm water while all your oils, body salts and juices melt away into the brine? Sounds like rendering to me.
Which leads us to today's trivia question:

Which two actresses both featured in Ivory soap ads before they became famous, and which one caused her ads to be pulled by Proctor and Gamble by her subsequent work?
One hint, they are NOT mother and daughter, as my cheaply thrown-together trivia book would have you believe.


the iNDefatigable mjenks said...

I will impart that the reaction involved in the making of soap (that which requires the lye from wood ashes), is called "saponification".

I don't know the Ivory Soap question, though I will smack myself in the forehead when I learn the answer. Or when I look it up here in a couple of seconds.

the iNDefatigable mjenks said...

Yep. Totally said, "Ah, I knew that." At least for one of them. I'm guessing the other is for her...ahem...other body of work that got her pulled.

Mary said...

I do not know the answer to the ivory soap question...I don;t know if I eve did, but b/c I'm so distracted by the chicken fat part of the post, I'm not even going to try.
I was actually going to make chicken for dinner tonight and now I'm too grossed out.
Thanks so very much Elliott!

Elliott said...

We had to dissect raw chicken parts in 7th grade science, I didn't eat chicken for three years after that. Then in high school, I worked in a meat market and learned all sorts of gross cool things, and love it to this day.

Mary, sorry for ruining dinner.

Mjenks, I may have to write about saponification down the road, maybe when I talk about lye and its use in the manufacture of lutefisk.

Bev said...

I'm still giggling over You Stew. I agree, baths are yucky, but my husband takes one every single night. Yes, I know - manly. Whatever, he has bad knees, or so he says.

And yes, chicken fat. Good luck with that.

No idea who the Ivory girls are, but love that Better Off Dead reference! Also, the "left arm tingling" line made me laugh.

the iNDefatigable mjenks said...

Along those same lines, Elliot, I helped my roommate in grad school--Dr. Assy--dissect fetal chickens to harvest their brains. I did it the afternoon before my wedding. Oh, romantic.

Anyway, that was nine years ago, and I still can't eat eggs.

Be nice and share!

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