Frying up snacks in human fat – is this what we’ve come to?

Jan. 18, 2013 | by Alicia Kelso

In recent years, we've seen our fair share of unusual offerings being added to limited-service menus around the world — the pork and seaweed doughnut from Dunkin' Donuts China, for example, or Pizza Hut's hot dog-stuffed crust.

But this morning I received an email from a Dutch food journalist that caught my attention like no other story has in my inbox, ever. And for someone who covers the food industry, which showcases people like Andrew Zimmern for eating unorthodox and (frankly) gross things, that's saying quite a bit.

The journalist pointed me to a link about a Dutch television program set to air Monday featuring chefs frying up "bitterballen" in human fat discarded from liposuctions.

Yes, you read that right. Human fat.

Discarded from liposuctions.

For those of you unfamiliar with Dutch cuisine, bitterballen is a croquette-like snack that typically features a savory meat base. Other ingredients include flour for thickening, salt, pepper and other spices, and maybe some chopped vegetables. The ingredients are combined, chilled, rolled into balls and then deep fried, and are usually served with dipping sauces.

According to my mom, a Dutch native, they're definitely one of the most popular foods in the Netherlands, and "everyone — restaurants, street vendors, everyone — sells them."

Despite the ubiquity of this menu offering, the latest bitterballen innovation (can you even call it "innovation?") seems to have even caught my Dutch journalist source off guard. That journalist, Ubel Zuiderveld, who writes for UZMedia, called the experiment "strange."

"It is (going to air on) Dutch public television and the kind of program you certainly have in the States with all kinds of strange experiments. TV-station BNN will broadcast it the coming Monday, so there is no public reaction yet. But frying a fast food snack in human fat... I cannot imagine something like that ever happened before," Zuiderveld said in an email exchange.

These snackballs are the most popular snacks in the country, Zuiderveld added, along with french fries and hamburgers. QSR staples, in other words.

Surely that doesn't mean R&D departments will be taking copious notes about the experiment. One of the show's presenters even admitted the idea alone makes him sick.

Why are they even bothering then? A loose translation from the story: "Everything for science. They want to explore whether it's possible to prepare snacks in such a way."

I think I'll just stick to the pork and seaweed doughnut, thank you.

Alicia Kelso / Alicia has been a professional journalist for 15 years. Her work with, and has been featured in publications around the world, including NPR, Good Morning America, Voice of Russia radio, and Franchise Asia magazine.
View Alicia Kelso's profile on LinkedIn

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