Saturday, July 12, 2008

Le Beure Monsieur, Por Favor

I love the taste of butter.

Okay, I said it. I admitted to my cholesterol clogging habit and frankly, I'm not ashamed.

If I had a choice between a bar of chocolate and a slice of plain white bread slathered with sweet butter, I'd take the bread and butter.

I will eat anything dipped in clarified butter especially when it's enhanced with a bit of fresh lemon juice. Artichokes for instance. And when there are no artichokes, I'm happy with whatever's around -- pickles, carrots, meatloaf. Anything I can dip is fair game. [Shut up, Remo; you, too, Chris.]

Time was, in my youth, I could put away an entire loaf of garlic bread, the homemade kind, as long as it was made with fresh garlic and sweet butter. I also recall eating at least ten ears of leftover, cold, Silver Queen corn the morning after a party my mother gave, because she had bought REAL butter for company and I felt like I had stumbled onto the motherlode.

I have made hollandaise sauce for myself for breakfast, just so I could spread it on toast, since the main ingredient in the recipe is  a whole stick of butter.

When I was a child I sat at the table watching while my frugal mother spent half an hour blending the capsule of yellow coloring into the large round bowl of white, lard-like stuff that was the margarine of the forties. I despised the taste of that egregious substitute for butter as much as I loved the real thing.

Unfortunately, my mother had no appreciation for my sensitive palette when it came to butter. I hated margarine and let her know every time she went to the store. But margarine was less expensive than butter, and as a child of the depression, she thought buying the substitute seemed like a good way to economize. We could have multiple cars, live in an upper middle class suburb, ride horses, take all kinds of music lessons, go to expensive colleges, but we couldn't spendan extra dime or so for butter.

Her usual response to me over the years was that she was sure I couldn't tell the difference. Oh, yes I can, I told her again and again. She even tried to trick me and I always caught on to her little scam no matter how she tried to pull it off.

Nowadays they've come up with some tasty substitute spreads, none of which tastes like butter to me, but at least they don't have that horrible greasy aftertaste from my childhood. I can live with these fake versions when I have to, usually when I'm visiting a friend who has expunged all evidence of taste and flavor from his or her refrigerator in order to reduce their "bad fats."

Which brings me to a purchase I made yesterday. With my pronounced preference for the taste of butter, you would think I might be really fussy about the kind I eat, refusing local products and only purchasing the imported stuff from Europe.

I admit that butter quality has become an absurd discussion point among bakery chefs trying to one up each other for the best frostings, cakes, and cookies. I have some amateur chef friends who also like to expound on their expertise. These are the same people who can recite the percentages of cocoa in every brand of chocolate ever made.

Not me. Until now I've been happy with sticks of Land O Lakes. Since that's the main brand on the shelf at my store.

Well, the real butter snobs finally got to me the other day. Along with the Land O Lakes at my grocery, I suddenly noticed row after row of brand names I'd only heard about on The Food Channel. Actually, a former friend was the first person I ever heard use "Plugra" correctly in a sentence.

But I passed on the very high end Plugra because it only came in giant bricks and I felt moderation was in order for my first foray into butter cuisine. So I settled for an 8.8 ounce tub of Kerrygold -- imported, pure Irish butter.

For something to taste it with I bought a small loaf of Boudin sour dough bread. [Despite my addiction, I haven't started eating butter right off the stick yet.]

Every day for the past three days, I've torn off a couple of pieces of the bread and swiped them across the top of the Kerrygold butter. [I live alone so I can do what I want.] I can get about five swipes for each chunk of bread. The bread gets smaller and smaller while the amount of butter increases with each bite.

I'm rather pleased at the amount of restraint I've shown, since there was a time when the entire loaf would have disappeared in one sitting along with the butter. Being older and unable to jam pack my stomach to overflowing anymore may be the real reason. Not that I haven't made an effort.

The butter is a beautiful bright gold color, which says to me it comes from cows that eat grass, not feed. It also doesn't melt at room temperature, a sure sign it hasn't been contaminated with canola oil to make it heart-healthy.

I must admit part of me wonders how they get the butter over here. Import the cows? Or is there an "oil" tanker crossing the Atlantic even as we speak?

I even took the extra step of going online to read up about Kerrygold, but I didn't get past the first page of their website, which had a large photo of a SIX pound value pack I could purchase for the low low price of 39 pounds, or was that dollars?

It sounded like too much sugar for a cent, to quote my great grandmother, who often said things that made sense until you began to think about it.

On the other hand, I wonder whether artichokes are in season yet.


swibirun said...

What, me make a double entendre?  

I got my hands on some fresh Amish butter (made by Amish, not from) and that stuff is like crack!  

We've been making this obscenely good macaroni and cheese recipe that we found for a few months and EVERYONE who eats it goes nuts over it.  Last week we made it and I realized that when I cut the recipe down in size, the quantities in the ingredients list changed; however, there is an instruction down in the body that calls for throwing a full stick of butter into the already rich cheese sauce.  It was supposed to be only two tablespoons of butter!  Oh well, it works for me!

suzypwr said...

My beagle Molly, who ate a quarter pound of butter in one sitting (sitting on my counter top, that is) on Thursday while I was at an exercise class, thinks you are now her new hero.

Margarine exists only in this house to swipe dog pills into so they will take them easier.


frankandmary said...

I admit it I use one of those yogurt/fake butter deals about 75% of the time.  My ex-bf will only eat Irish butter(childhood "habit" he says) & I made awful fun of him UNTIL I tasted it.  So I bought a pound.  On day two I found myself putting butter on the bread before I made a peanut butter & jelly sandwich. I threw the butter out before I could not fit thru my own front door. ~Mary

ksquester said...

There is nothing as wonderful as the taste of butter. My mother also used margarine, but my father prefered butter.  Somebody served me "country crock" and I called it "cuntry croak!" (Yes, I spells 'em like I sees 'em)  I thought I was going to have to call the government to get the oil slick out of my mouth. I could taste that crap for 2 weeks.  We were recently in San Francisco. A local restaurant served sweet butter with a reddish sea salt sprinkled on top and it was divine. That and a glass or two of wine and I didn't want anything else.  Anne