Tag Archives: margarine

Margarine, AKA Vomit.

18 Jul

There have been times in the world’s history when butter substitutes like margarine made sense.  Here is a list of those times, none of which have anything to do with our lives today:

  1. The unrefrigerated 19th century (but only the latter half)
  2. Feeding the lower classes in France
  3. World War I
  4. World War II

Before starting this essay, I really must tell you that according to Wikipedia—wait, sorry, I have to finish laughing—so as to avoid confusion, one could not actually buy yellow-colored margarine in Quebec until July, 2008.  What does this mean?  While the unwashed masses in France used margarine to slather their croissants, and probably gladly, the French in Canada could not be trusted over the last 160 years or so to discern the difference between real butter and the shit in a tub that’s one carbon-chain away from plastic.  Which proves my theory:  Canada is dumb, and isn’t a real country anyway.

Anyway, Canadian futility aside, the reality here is that in the Western world, there’s really no need for margarine.  We don’t need to worry about how to keep food without refrigeration, and I’m quite certain that the lower classes in France today have far better benefits available than all of us combined.  So who cares how they butter their bread?

Now.  Margarine–and this is key–is disgusting. I hate it nearly as much as I hate popcorn, and that’s fucking fat lot of hate, people.  In fact, I’m sure my room in Hell is going to be filled with movie popcorn soaked in that nasty butter-flavored ooze.  Man!  I swear I’ve been around wet spots more appetizing than any tub of margarine.

What’s curious to me, then, is how margarine persists.  To say that margarine’s health claims are debatable is putting it mildly, considering its high level of industrial processing.  I mean, how much healthier is a chocolate-chip cookie made with margarine when that cookie also includes refined flour, a cup or two of brown sugar, and a bag of chocolate chips?  How is making those cookies with a half-cup of solid, manmade processed oil product somehow better for you than those same cookies made with two sticks of naturally occurring butterfat?

So I guess I understand its practicality.  It’s spreadable and will keep well during nuclear winder.  But the flavor is so horrifying, and the color so foul, I can’t understand why you wouldn’t just plan ahead and leave some butter on the counter, available there for all your spreading needs.  Honestly, margarine can’t be that practical when it’s also that gross.  But I do understand that some of you grew up on margarine, and continue to use it for that reason.  I suppose I can see why some will still spread it on toast, or a muffin. But for cooking?  Baking?  This should be a crime.

The main reason is this:  Like butter—like most foods, actually—when margarine is heated, its character will change drastically, and in this case, for the worse.  Its utility, its flavor…all of it.  Particularly when melted, all of margarine’s flaws, which are too numerous to be counted, will be amplified and unavoidable.  The artificial butter flavor that might’ve been palatable straight from the fridge will, when melted, fill your nose with the essence of hot paper.  And its consistency will be a bit like… well, this is a family show, so nevermind.

See, most margarines are made from emulsions of either corn oil or soybean oil, and some other ingredients with a half-life of about five million years, plus the added bonus of heavy food coloring.  Heated and melted margarine will behave and taste more like the oil it actually is; and its emulsifiers, things such as lecithin, will produce results that are sticky and will remain unincorporated with the rest of your recipe.  Have you ever seen, and worse yet smelled, a cookie made with margarine?  It’s simply impossible to produce great bakery with the stuff.  The best bakery uses butter, period.

In the final analysis, if you don’t lick the butter tray, at least not daily, you’ll be fine.  I swear.  But continue to eat margarine, and you will turn into some Pleistocene creature that sheds its oily shell every spring and fall.  Not sexy, that.  Not sexy at all.