Lard is not an appealing word. When Silvio Berlusconi allegedly used it as the crux of an unrepeatable comment about Angela Merkel in 2014 (which he has since denied), it wouldn’t have been meant as a compliment. The image conjured was fleshy, flabby and congealed. Yet the word that gave us the name for where we keep our food (“larder”) also denotes an animal fat that was once a staple of the western diet. It suffered at the hands of 20th-century diet scientists but is now making a noticeable comeback. Lard is rendered pig fat and while it is not quite the new coconut oil (UK sales of lard crept up by just over £100,000 in 2017 from 2016, according to Statista), chefs are embracing it as the fat du jour. In 2018, Alain Weissgerber, head chef at two-Michelin-starred restaurant Taubenkobel in Austria, served bread not with butter but with lard at a prestigious 15-course meal I happened to be at. It tasted rather like smoked cream. Weissgerber says he uses the fat — from pigs farmed j...

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